Belfast Telegraph

Ex-minister: no mention of Garda mole at cross-border meetings

A former Irish justice minister said that any evidence of a Garda mole working with the IRA in Dundalk in 1989 would be “seriously embarrassing” for the government of the day.

Gerry Collins said that there was never any mention of such an allegation at regular cross-border meetings with the Northern Ireland Secretary, which were attended by the Garda commissioner and the RUC Chief Constable.

“If it were a fact it would be seriously embarrassing, but it was never established as a fact,” said the retired Limerick politician.

He said evidence for such a claim would have been raised “immediately” at the meetings, which he described as “no-holds barred”.

The tribunal is investigating claims that a Garda leak led to the IRA ambush which killed two senior RUC members, Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Breen on March 20, 1989.

Mr Collins said that in preparation of a report in the wake of the ambush, assistant commissioner Ned O'Dea was sent to Dundalk on a “fact-finding mission”.

The O'Dea report concluded there was no leak.

Press reports in the wake of the killings — and the earlier murders of Lord Justice Maurice Gibson and the Hanna family in 1988 — had suggested there was an IRA ‘mole’ within the Garda. But Mr Collins agreed with Darragh Lehane, representing retired detective sergeant Owen Corrigan, that there was “a propaganda war”, and it would be in the IRA's interest to discredit policemen.

“You don't destroy a good police force, which we are lucky to have, by investigating every time some silly article appears in some tabloid,” he said.

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