Ex-sergeant ‘deeply insulted’ by collusion claims

Smithwick tribunal

A former garda detective sergeant has said he was “deeply insulted” by allegations that there was collusion in Dundalk garda station which led to the murder of two senior RUC officers as they returned from a cross-border security meeting.

Owen Corrigan was the most experienced member of the detective branch in the border station during the 1970s and 1980s. He gave evidence at the Smithwick tribunal, which is looking at allegations of collusion in the deaths of chief superintendent Harry Breen and superintendent Bob Buchanan, shot in an IRA ambush on 20 March 1989.

Mr Corrigan has described allegations of involvement in the deaths of the two men as “a shameful, monstrous and terrible lie.”

And he said allegations of a “mole” did not come up until a reinvestigation into the deaths of the two men in 2000 following the publication of the book ‘Bandit Country’ by journalist Toby Harnden.

Mr Corrigan said earlier newspaper allegations of collusion were not taken seriously as “newspapers are ten a penny.”

And he noted that Mr Harnden, now based in America, had refused to come to the tribunal and give evidence.

Mr Corrigan also said that when he was named under privilege in the House of Commons by unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson, British agent Peter Keeley (also known as Kevin Fulton) was in the public gallery.

He said Mr Keeley was “a reject from the British army, a reject from the RUC special branch described as a compulsive liar, a fantasist and an intelligence nuisance by the chief constable of the RUC.”

And he said that also in the public gallery was Mr Willy Frazer, “who caused a riot in Dublin with the Love Ulster parade.

Mr Corrigan said he had given his life to serving the state in the Army and later as a garda, that Dundalk during his time as a detective there was “regarded as El Paso”.

Earlier, DUP MLA Mr Jimmy Spratt said evidence at the tribunal that Mr Corrigan was “on first name terms” with former RUC chief constable Sir Jack Hermon were “absolutely incredible.”

Mr Spratt headed the protection detail for the chief constable between 1980 and 1986.

And he said denials of collusion in 1989 by Mr Hermon and garda commissioner Eugene Crowley were made for political reasons.

“I believe that in his heart of hearts Jack Hermon knew that things were happening in that border area,” he said.

“The bottom line is something was happening, somebody was getting information, and that information was coming from someplace.”