Tribunal criticises Garda and RUC

Smithwick tribunal

The Smithwick tribunal has criticised police forces on both sides of the border for their failure to disclose details of an investigation into how the IRA obtained confidential Garda intelligence documents.

“They both should have known a report on collusion in Donegal was relevant to an inquiry into collusion,” tribunal chairman Peter Smithwick said.

PSNI barrister Mr Mark Robinson told the retired district court president he “rejected entirely” any criticism of the PSNI.

“In fact the vast bulk of the documents before this tribunal came from the PSNI,” Mr Robinson said.

Earlier, Mr Robinson had asked former garda commissioner Noel Conroy why he had not disclosed details of his inquiry into leaks of confidential Garda documents to the IRA in the early 1990s.

The photocopied pages came from Fógra Tora, an internal briefing document circulated to stations throughout the country.

The leak came to light when the documents were shown to a journalist as evidence that two people shot by the IRA were loyalist suspects.

The IRA at first said the documents were “Garda files”, and later that they were discovered in a loyalist “hide”.

Inquiries into the security breach were carried out on both sides of the border by Mr Conroy – then a detective chief superintendent – and an RUC officer identified as Witness 68.

Mr Conroy told the tribunal that he was unable to establish the source of any leak, and could not say definitively if it came from either service. Fógra Tora is circulated to the RUC and other police forces by Garda HQ.

In his report, Witness 68 said the IRA were in possession of “a great deal more information on alleged loyalist group members in Co Tyrone.”

Tribunal barrister Ms Mary Laverty SC said the tribunal was unaware of Mr Conroy’s inquiry until it was mentioned by Witness 68, and asked if there were any other inquiries into Garda collusion the tribunal was unaware of.

Mr Conroy said he was not aware of other inquiries except those the tribunal already knew of.

The tribunal was set up to look at allegations of garda collusion in the 1989 IRA killings of two senior RUC officers, chief superintendent Harry Breen and superintendent Bob Buchanan, as they returned from a meeting in Dundalk Garda station.

The Tribunal resumes on Friday.