Ex-sergeant admired IRA man’s ‘loyalty’

Smithwick tribunal

A former garda detective sergeant facing allegations of collusion at the Smithwick tribunal has said he respected a convicted IRA member for his loyalty.

Ex-sergeant Owen Corrigan said that British agent Peter Keeley (also known as “Kevin Fulton”) who had infiltrated the IRA in Louth, had no loyalties except to money.

Mr Keeley has told the tribunal that information about the movements of two senior RUC officers, chief superintendent Harry Breen and superintendent Bob Buchanan, was passed to the IRA by a garda who he understood to be Mr Corrigan. Mr Corrigan has denied the allegation.

Mr Corrigan compared the British agent to Mr Patrick “Mooch” Blair, who has a conviction for attempted murder. Mr Keeley worked as a driver for Mr Blair. He said that Mr Keeley had given information about “his best friend”.

Barrister Mr Richard Smyth, on behalf of Mr Keeley, said that Mr Fulton was loyal to the British army.

“He had no allegiance to anyone,” Mr Corrigan said. “He walked in off the street in Newry, offered to give information for money.”

Mr Corrigan said he used the word “tout” to describe informants, and they were “the lowest form of life.”

“The type of work I was doing was very murky, thankless and dangerous.”

He said he had put more IRA members behind bars than any other detective in his region, and was the IRA’s “number one target”.

And he said he had spoken with his “great personal friend”, RUC chief constable Jack Hermon about the “large sums of money” British authorities were paying for information on the IRA.

Mr Corrigan also dismissed allegations that he was involved in collusion or smuggling as “hearsay, double hearsay, triple hearsay. There’s nobody speaking in facts at all.”

Retired garda Inspector Dan Prenty said that the information in a confidential “C77” report was not useful in investigating the abduction of smuggler John McAnulty, as it was already widely known among Gardai.

Barrister Mr Darren Lehane, on behalf of Mr Corrigan, said that Mr Prenty’s refusal to accept the information in the C77 was valuable was further evidence of his “malice” towards Mr Corrigan.

Mr Prenty said that any evidence he had given was based on fact.

The former detective inspector also said he was “shocked” that Mr Corrigan would not have known the name of a leading PIRA member in the area.

Mr Prenty said every person arrested for for any reason and brought to Dundalk garda station was later questioned by the IRA about what gardai asked them in custody.