Belfast Telegraph

My officers did not prize loyalty above truth: Garda chief

By Sarah Stack

The Republic's police chief has said he will never accept a judge's finding that officers valued loyalty to the force over the truth during an eight-year inquiry which uncovered collusion with the IRA.

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said he rejected one of the damning conclusions by tribunal head, Peter Smithwick, that members of the force prize loyalty to the uniform over honesty.

The judge found that an IRA mole in the Garda station in Dundalk tipped off a terrorist hit squad that led to the murders of two of the most senior RUC men killed in the Troubles.

In a blistering attack on the culture of the force, Judge Smithwick said he was depressed and disheartened that reputation still takes priority over everything else.

More than a week after the tribunal reported, Mr Callinan said: "I did say I have accepted the conclusions arrived at by the Smithwick tribunal, but in the context, in the narrow confined context of loyalty to the organisation above loyalty to the truth, I cannot and do not and will never accept that."

Mr Callinan said senior officers were examining the report line by line to uncover any issues before ruling out a third internal probe.

Previous internal inquiries were also criticised by Smithwick.

In his report, Judge Smithwick took on the Garda Commissioner, whose lawyers he accused of setting out to undermine former Chief Superintendent, Tom Curran. Describing Mr Curran as of the utmost integrity, the tribunal fully accepted evidence from the former Monaghan policeman that he told Garda HQ in 1988 that Superintendent Bob Buchanan was on an IRA hit list.

The intelligence, from an informant, was passed to then Assistant Commissioner Eugene Crowley, but there are no records or files to show the information was acted upon.

The Garda Commissioner said his colleagues have been left devastated by the findings of the tribunal.

BACKGROUND

Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan were ambushed by IRA killers on their way home after meeting Garda officers on March 20, 1989. The Smithwick Inquiry said there had been collusion between Garda officers and the IRA.

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