RUC ambush gun was used in Kingsmill massacre

Smithwick tribunal

Documents supplied to the Smithwick tribunal show that a gun used in the ambush in which two senior RUC officers were killed on their way back from a meeting with their Garda counterparts in Dundalk in 1989 was used in four other attacks, including the Kingsmill massacre.

The tribunal was set up to look at claims that the IRA received information from within An Garda Siochana before an ambush in which two senior RUC Officers, Supt Bob Buchanan and Chief Supt Harry Breen were murdered.

Ten protestant textile workers were shot by the IRA in the 1976 atrocity in South Armagh. The killers initially asked a Catholic in the group to step forward, and his co-workers tried to protect him, fearing he was to be shot. But instead the paramilitaries told him to “get down the road and don’t look back.”

Ten men perished in the attack, while an eleventh survived despite having 18 gunshot wounds.

The PSNI Historical Enquiries team has found that the attack was carried out by the Provisional IRA, who were nominally on ceasefire. The attack was claimed at the time by a group calling itself the South Armagh Republican Action Force.

The gun was also used in the murder of Eamon Maguire, whose body was dumped on the South Armagh near the border in 1987. An IRA informer identified as “Stakenife” has been linked to the death of Maguire.
Belfast republican Freddy Scappaticci, who denies he is “Stakeknife”, has been granted legal representation at the tribunal.

Maguire was believed to have given information on IRA activities to Gardai which led to two men receiving life imprisonment for a 1982 murder during a bank robbery in Tramore, Co Waterford.

Meanwhile, Retired Garda inspector Vincent Rowan told the Smithwick tribunal he recalled congratulating Bob Buchanan on a pending transfer and promotion, after the superintendent’s meeting with senior Garda officers. Rowan said he did remember who told him about the promotion.

Former Garda John McKeon said he had not seen the two visitors, but had seen “two sets of legs” going up a stairwell, and assumed later it was the RUC Officers.Photo of Smithwick tribunal

Questioned by the legal team for the Garda commissioner, all of the witnesses said they had no evidence or information about a possible IRA “mole” in the Garda station.

Sgt Thomas Brady said that the two RUC men “came on short notice”, and “no one knew that they were coming. He did not see the two men.

However he had met the men on other occasions, and said “they were very friendly men.”

James Greene, who worked as a detective in the station, said RUC Officers visited the station “on a regular basis” to see the superintendent, and he was in regular telephone contact with RUC detectives in Newry and Armagh.

He said his sergeant in the detective unit, Owen Corrigan “gave his entire career to the force” and had secured many convictions.

Greene, who was once burned out of his home, said that Corrigan “was harassed every day” by the IRA because of his work.