Taoiseach criticises IRA Smithwick snub

Published Friday, 01 February 2013
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Taoiseach Enda Kenny has criticised republicans for not giving evidence to the Smithwick tribunal into IRA-Garda collusion.

Taoiseach criticises IRA Smithwick snub
The scene where RUC officers Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan were murdered. (© Pacemaker)

The tribunal chair Judge Peter Smithwick revealed that three former IRA members were dumped by investigators after they refused to aid the review into the murders of two senior policemen in 1989.

The Smithwick Tribunal is investigating allegations of Garda collusion in the IRA murders of senior RUC officers Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan, just north of the border in Co Armagh.

The Provisional IRA members, one of whom is believed to have direct knowledge of the killings, had answered some questions in private but refused a further meeting with tribunal lawyers or to be questioned at the inquiry.

Instead, an unsigned statement from the IRA members was read into the record at the tribunal on Friday.

They said the RUC officers had been under surveillance for almost a year before they were killed.

They insisted the murder was carried out by a unit from South Armagh and rejected claims that another unit in south Down or a British agent, Peter Keeley, knew about the plot.

They also denied claims of collusion from anyone in Dundalk Garda station, including a former detective sergeant Owen Corrigan.

Mr Kenny criticised their refusal not to answer further questions, saying those involved should "now have the decency to give up the information with is necessary for the Smithwick tribunal to do its work".

Whilst the IRA members have answered some questions in private that cannot equate to a proper process of scrutiny within a hearing of the tribunal.

Jeffrey Donaldson, DUP MP

His criticism comes as Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams renewed calls for a truth and reconciliation forum to be established.

Reacting, Mr Kenny said his calls were something that "could be applied to those Provisional IRA members".

However the party president said the IRA member's cooperation was "historically unparalleled".

"Clearly this would not have been possible but for the tribunal creating the context to allow it. I commend this," Mr Adams said.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said the evidence given by the former IRA members was "very comprehensive".

Later, several former Ulster Unionist members denied claims they had any knowledge that a senior Catholic RUC officer was a "likely cause of collusion" in the case.

Lady Sylvia Hermon, widow of late RUC Chief Constable John Hermon, former First Minister David Trimble and Jeffrey Donaldson denied the claim which was made in a 2002 NIO document.

Mr Donaldson, now DUP Lagan Valley MP, criticised republicans for not cooperating, saying they should give evidence to the tribunal to back up their calls for the truth about the past.

"Republicans are regularly calling for a truth commission to be established, including most recently Gerry Adams," he said.

"However, whenever there has been an opportunity for republicans to demonstrate any evidence that they are prepared to tell the truth it has always been ducked.

"Whether it was Martin McGuinness hiding behind a so-called 'code of honour' whilst giving evidence to the Saville Tribunal or IRA members now refusing to give oral evidence to Smithwick it represents an unwillingness to actually examine the past in an even-handed and transparent manner."

He added: "The families of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Buchanan deserve to know the full truth about what happened to their loved ones."

© UTV News
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4 Comments
Frosty in Here wrote (660 days ago):
Expecting the truth from murdering sociopaths? Might as well say it'll never rain on a Wednesday.
Michael Taggart in yorkshire wrote (661 days ago):
To Survivor in NI from another survivor from NI Please explain why you only want Gerry to apologise, should everyone in NI get an apology from all the so called poloticians/Terrorist from the set up of of this state in 1921, every single one has had a hand in the suffering of the decent people of NI, they failed to serve all the people and chose to represent only "thier" people that is why the place is in the state it is, I agree with a truth forum where all sides should come clean so we can put a line under the past and go forward as one.I would like to see peace in NI and do not care if it means staying in the union, joining a united Ireland or going it alone as long as the trouble stops and EVERYONE learns to live together.
Mark in NI wrote (661 days ago):
What a surprise... Republicans call for inquiry after inquiry about cases where British collusion is suspected, but don't want to know when they have to tell the truth about the crimes they have committed.
Survivor in NI wrote (662 days ago):
Did Gerry Adams apologise for this too???? NOT!!!! Hypocrite comes to mind.
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