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Hearings into murder of RUC men due to start

Evidence about the IRA’s plan to murder two senior RUC officers in south Armagh 20 years ago will be heard in public in October.

And the Tribunal of Inquiry hearing the evidence surrounding the murders of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan may hold sittings in Belfast if needed.

A senior Tribunal source told the Belfast Telegraph that it is completing the collecting of evidence.

“We are currently completing the preliminary arrangements for the Inquiry which have taken longer than anticipated but we will spend the coming weeks marshalling our witnesses so we can begin public hearings in October”, the senior figure said.

While the inquiry into the deaths of the two most senior RUC officers to be murdered during the troubles will sit in Blackhall Place in Dublin the senior legal figure said that if necessary it could take evidence in Belfast.

“At this moment we are not anticipating that development but if it was necessary we would agree to go to Belfast for a specific matter to be heard”, the senior legal figure said.

And the source confirmed that the Tribunal expects legal restrictions that currently prevent a former Army intelligence officer from giving evidence at the Tribunal to be lifted.

Former soldier ‘Martin Ingram’ has been subject to court committal proceedings in England for over two years in an action brought by the Ministry of Defence. Before then he had been interviewed by two senior Garda officers about the alleged involvement of a member of the Garda with one of the most infamous British agents inside the IRA, Freddie Scappaticci.

So far lawyers for the Tribunal headed by former District Court Judge Peter Smithwick have been unable to interview the former army officer because of the legal proceedings hanging over him.

They forbid Ingram from making any comment about his knowledge of secret British Army operations along the border with the threat of imprisonment if he does.

But it is understood that former Attorney General Baroness Scotland was “extremely helpful” to the Tribunal before the General Election and significant progress has been made in paving the way for Ingram to give evidence.

Ingram has claimed that the Army indirectly controlled a rogue Garda officer because Freddie Scappaticci acted as his IRA ‘handler’ and Scappaticci worked for the secret Force Research Unit that he was attached to.

Ingram refused to comment yesterday.

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