RUC report said Garda passed information to IRA

Smithwick tribunal

A former RUC special branch detective has given evidence to the Smithwick tribunal about a June 1985 intelligence report stating that a detective sergeant in Dundalk garda was passing information to the IRA.

The witness, identified as Witness Q, gave evidence from Belfast via video-link to the tribunal, which is looking at allegations of garda collusion in the 1989 deaths of two RUC officers, chief superintendent Harry Breen and superintendent Bob Buchanan.

The witness said that in 1985 he met a source along with another officer, Witness Z, who previously gave evidence to the inquiry.

The information, that former detective sergeant Owen Corrigan was passing information to the IRA, was graded as “of medium value and believable,” he said.

Mr Corrigan has denied allegations of collusion, describing them as a “monstrous lie”.

Witness Z previously identified the source as John McNulty, a businessman who was kidnapped and killed by the IRA in 1989.

Witness Q said Mr McNulty did not give the impression of being an IRA supporter, and “gave the impression throughout the time I knew him of being anti-violence.”

Mr McNulty was not paid for the information he provided, expect for reimbursing travel expenses, Witness Q said.

He said that McNulty, who was in the transport business and also involved in smuggling, was “a very sociable type of man, very easy-going, easy to talk to.”

And he said his source had contacts who were both high-ranking and low-ranking within the IRA.

The witness also said he was told by an RUC detective inspector in Newry “not to be talking about anything sensitive in front of Mr Corrigan.”

And he said that on an occasion when he met with garda inspector Dan Prenty in Dundalk and Mr Corrigan entered the room, “the reaction was a nod and a wink, just to be careful what was being spoken about.”

The witness agreed that following a May 1985 attack in which four RUC officers died which escorting a Brinks Mat security van, there was concern in the force over how the IRA got its information about the movements of the van.

Barrister Jim O’Callaghan SC, who represents Mr Corrigan, said his client would give evidence that his client generated confidential garda intelligence reports about Mr McNulty’s 1989 kidnapping which were passed on to the RUC.

Mr Corrigan, who is in ill-health, is expected to give evidence to the inquiry in early June.

In response to a question from barrister Jim O Callaghan, the chairman said he would consider “short oral submissions” in addition to written submissions when the tribunal completed hearing evidence from witnesses, but said he did not want oral submissions to take up more than one day.

“I have no intention to allow great outpourings of oratory,” chairman Peter Smithwick said.