Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Kirwan in collusion data criticism

Garda officers were not given a 'half chance' to respond to some claims made to the Smithwick Tribunal, it has been claimed

One of the country's most senior gardai has criticised the handling of intelligence by police in Northern Ireland about alleged collusion between gardai and the IRA.

Detective Chief Superintendent Peter Kirwan said his force were not given a "half chance" to respond to some claims made to the Smithwick Tribunal, despite usually having a seamless relationship with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and British Security Services.

A precis of intelligence which highlighted alleged collusion was given to the tribunal by PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris and made public in October.

"We have no issue with the sharing of information on the workings of the relationship between PSNI and the British Security Services with the tribunal," said Mr Kirwan, head of the security and intelligence section of crime and security at Garda headquarters.

"The issue arises when the sharing with others directly impacts on the garda organisation and we're not given even a half chance of interpreting what it means."

Mr Kirwan said gardai had only been given the intelligence in a very brief summary, the same as the tribunal, and had not been given access to more detailed information to meaningfully investigate or act on.

Judge Peter Smithwick is investigating whether gardai based in the border area colluded with Provisional IRA units in the 1989 murders of RUC Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan - two of the most senior officers to die in the Troubles. They were assassinated in an ambush after leaving a meeting at Dundalk garda station.

Solicitors for the Breen and Buchanan families called on Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan to probe his senior officer's claims.

"It is very regrettable indeed to hear such a senior garda officer complain that the wide-ranging and significant recent intelligence has not been properly shared by the PSNI and British Security Services, and can not be meaningfully investigated without normal sharing arrangements being followed," John McBurney and Ernie Waterworth said in a statement.

"Clearly this needs very urgent attention with a view to seeing all aspects fully and thoroughly investigated by the commissioner."

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