Documents missing from Garda station

Smithwick tribunal

Critical documents from Dundalk garda station on the day two senior RUC officers were killed returning from a meeting in the station are “inexplicably missing”, the Smithwick tribunal heard.Photo of Smithwick tribunal

The station diary records the times at which all Gardai go on and off duty, and is a record of who is present in the station at any time.

The tribunal is looking at allegations that a Garda mole leaked the RUC visit to the IRA, leading to the lethal ambush which killed chief superintendent Harry Breen and superintendent Bob Buchanan on 20 March 1989.

“A significant number of documents from around that period are missing” said Michael Durack SC representing the Garda commissioner. He said the commissioner would provide a list of all missing documents to the tribunal.

Retired border superintendent Tom Connolly, who previously told the tribunal he was aware of “unease” about an IRA “mole” in the station, was recalled to give evidence about what he knew.

Tribunal barrister Justin Dillon SC began by asking him to refrain from naming any individual, but Connolly later said in evidence “Owen Corrigan is the man we’re talking about.”

This was “an indication of malice”, objected Corrigan’s barrister, Jim O’Callaghan SC.

Asked by O’Callaghan as if he heard Dillon’ s caution not to name anyone, Connolly said “I’m afraid I didn’t, I have a hearing problem,” indicating his ear.

The barrister said Connolly had “deliberately and maliciously” put Corrigan’s name out in the public domain.

Connolly said he could not remember who first mentioned Corrigan’s name to him, or where, or when, and he had no evidence to support the allegation.

Earlier, retired superintendent Michael Bohan said a colleague, Superintendent Brian McCabe, told him Buchanan had “a man of reckless courage”. McCabe reported that he had spoken to Buchanan about his frequent visits to Dundalk garda station, advising him to come less often and not always to drive the same red car.

“The Provisional IRA had a very good intelligence service,” Bohan said. “It wouldn’t take much to spot the car.”

Bohan described former detective sergeant Owen Corrigan as a “loyal, efficient and dedicated officer”.

And he praised the sergeant’s courage, recalling a time when he entered a church when shots were fired at an IRA funeral. One man was found hiding in a confession box, and another escaped.

“Corrigan would be one of the first into the church, he never led from behind.”

And he said Corrigan was sent a death threat when a dead chicken was left outside his house.

“I would consider that as a threat. The hen is dead, you may be next.”