Belfast Telegraph

Margaret Thatcher 'played down collusion'

PM warned speculating about Garda leaks to IRA would benefit terrorists

By Gerard Cunningham

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her Northern Ireland Secretary Tom King were urged to play down allegations of Garda collusion with the IRA following the murders of two RUC officers.

The confidential briefing note for the Prime Minister warned that adding to speculation about Garda collusion would be “playing the terrorists’ game”.

The notes said that answers to Parliamentary questions about alleged leaks from gardai to the IRA killers of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan should note “there was not a shred of evidence to substantiate these allegations which are extremely dangerous”.

The confidential notes were among a series of documents relating to the lethal attack which were handed over to the tribunal by the PSNI and read into the record by barrister Justin Dillon SC.

Another document prepared following the publication of Bandit Country by journalist Toby Harnden complained that it was “blatantly obvious the material contained within the publication emanated from official sources”.

“Material content including photographs could only be sourced via the security network,” the document said.

RUC intelligence documents included 1996 reports about the IRA kidnapping and interrogation of former Garda Detective Sergeant Owen Corrigan and Francie Tiernan, a business associate.

The reports noted the kidnapping took place “without authority from senior command”, and that those involved were later subject to “internal disciplinary procedures” with the Provisional IRA.

Mr Corrigan, who is represented before the tribunal, denies allegations of collusion.

Story so far

The Smithwick Tribunal was set up in 2005 to examine the allegations of Garda collusion in the deaths of the the two most senior RUC officers killed during the Troubles. Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan were shot dead in an IRA ambush as they returned from a meeting in Dundalk Garda station in March 1989.

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