Ex-sergeant did not pass on death threat information

Smithwick tribunal

Former garda detective sergeant Owen Corrigan has told the Smithwick tribunal that he did not pass on information to his superiors about IRA plans which led to the deaths of two senior RUC officers in a March 1989 ambush.

PSNI barrister Mr Mark Robinson said that by failing to pass on the information he had betrayed his Garda oath, his colleagues in the force, and the two RUC officers, chief superintendent Harry Breen and superintendent Bob Buchanan.

Mr Corrigan said he deeply resented the charge that he had betrayed anyone, and he had not betrayed his oath.

“Perhaps I didn’t do as much as I did previously, ” said the former detective, who said he was sidelined following the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement.

Mr Corrigan also said that he was never asked about rumours of concerning his finances or property deals by senior officers during his career, “because they knew it was all lies.”

“No one ever got down with you and assessed your susceptibility to compromise?” Mr Robinson asked.

“They didn’t because they didn’t listen to rumours,” Mr Corrigan said.

The tribunal is looking at allegations of garda collusion in the deaths on the two RUC men. Mr Corrigan, and two other former sergeants, Mr Leo Colton and Mr Finbar Hickey, have been granted legal representation before the inquiry.

Mr Corrigan said he was “the hate figure in Dundalk”, and that IRA members spread rumours to discredit him.”

“They [garda HQ] know the spreading of rumours is the oldest tactic in the operation of guerilla warfare.”

Mr Corrigan said he learned that in the weeks before the ambush in which Mr Breen and Mr Buchanan died, they had been followed by IRA surveillance, and on one occasion an IRA team had missed them by minutes.

He said this was “good information” and the “contact was very reliable”.

But he Mr Robinson that “didn’t really know” why he had not reported any of this information to Garda HQ on a confidential C77 form at the time.

Mr Jim Callaghan SC, representing Mr Corrigan, said information on the ambush appeared in a July 1989 C77 form submitted following the abduction of businessman Mr John McAnulty.

Mr Robinson said the information reported by Mr Corrigan in July 1989 had already appeared in press reports and was known to the RUC and Gardai, and “was nothing new.”