Report was not prepared to quash ‘Mole’ speculation

Smithwick tribunal

A report prepared by an assistant commissioner with 48 hours of the deaths of two RUC officers as they returned from a meeting with Gardai in Dundalk was not prepared to quash speculation about an IRA mole within the force, a senior intelligence officer said.

The report was prepared by assistant commissioner Edward O’Dea following the deaths of RUC chief superintendent Harry Breen and superintendent Bob Buchanan on 20 March 1989.

The report was prepared after the government indicated to the Garda commissioner that he should “carry out an urgent inquiry into the circumstances of the meeting in Dundalk.

Garda Chief superintendent Peter Kirwan told the Smithwick tribunal he did not see how a press report the morning after the murders, which reported on the possibility of a Garda “mole” leaking information on the RUC mens’ visit, could be “informed comment” when it was written so soon after the events.

Mr Kirwan later worked with chief superintendent Sean Camon on a further report in 2001, following the publication of Bandit Country by journalist Toby Harndon, and an article by journalist Kevin Myers.

As part of the investigation, the Camon inquiry reviewed a report prepared by assistant commissioner O’Dea in March 1989.

“Mr O’Dea’s report gave clarity to the state of knowledge of different gardai in Dundalk on that day,” Mr Kirwan said.

Mr Kirwan said that chief superintendent Kirwan, who headed the National Bureau of Criminal investigation (NBCI) at the time, was the “senior investigating detective” in An Garda Síochána.

And Mr Kirwan said he had “no knowledge” of a request from the RUC that a search for an IRA trianing camp in North Louth should “bypass” gardai in Dundalk because of leak fears.

The chief superintendent was a detective with the Special Detective Unit in the early 1990s.

Last Friday, retired RUC assistant commissioner Blair Wallace said the request to “bypass” Dundalk gardai came from an intelligence source, who said the information “wouldn’t be worth anything if it was given to Dundalk.”

A house overlooking Dundalk garda station was unoccupied in early 1989 on the day when two senior RUC officers were killed in an ambush as they travelled back after a cross-border security meeting. The Smithwick tribunal heard.

Chief superintendent Hary Breen and superintendent bob Buchanan were the two most senior officers killed by the IRA during the Troubles.

Retired dentist Kenneth Farnon told the Smithwick tribunal that the house on the Crescent, Dundalk, overlooking the Garda station, was unoccupied for about four years at the time of the attack. It was purchased by a new owner and occupied some months later.

He said that the house was well secured, and when he had inspected it with a view to buying it at one point, there was no evidence of broken windows or other unauthorised entry.

The tribunal is looking at allegations that a leak from within Dundalk Garda station led to the fatal attack in which the two RUC men died. The tribunal previously heard that the private car belonging to superintendent Buchanan was parked in front to the garda station during the meeting.