Belfast Telegraph

Smithwick Tribunal: I could have been in car too, reveals officer

By LIAM CLARKE

Harry Breen's former right-hand man in the RUC has revealed how he escaped certain death thanks to a rugby game.

Alan Mains was a sergeant who acted as Chief Superintendent Breen's staff officer, and was left traumatised by his mentor's death.

He revealed that he had been intending to attend the meeting – but was excused because he was playing rugby that night.

However, he arranged the meeting, and before going Mr Breen told him he had misgivings about some of the gardai there.

For many years Mr Mains was almost a lone voice in the RUC demanding that the collusion line should be pursued. He continued even when two Garda inquiries, one conducted jointly with the RUC, found nothing suspicious.

"Harry could have easily delegated that meeting to me and if it had have been me who died, I know rightly that Harry would have fought for the truth to come out. That was the sort of guy he was," said Mr Mains.

He dismissed claims that a cache of intelligence documents was recovered by the IRA from the bodies of his two police colleagues.

"Harry had left his files with me. The only sensitive material they recovered from the bodies was his notebook, which had the numbers and contact details of colleagues in it," he said.

Meanwhile, the then head of Belfast Special Branch blamed the Irish government, not the Garda, for the atmosphere during which the atrocity took place.

Raymond White, then a Chief Superintendant, was one of several RUC officers who gave evidence.

"I accept the tribunal's findings that at least one member of the Garda gave information on people's movement to terrorists," he said. "But you can't blacken the entire Garda Siochana because of that. I am quite convinced there were dedicated police officers in the force and – had they been given the resources – they would have done more."

He added: "At Irish government level here was almost a denial of the role of the Republic as a supply and training base for the IRA. The political line was that the trouble in the North was all to do with the politics of the North and that it had nothing to do with the South. Their message was that political change would end the violence."

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