Belfast Telegraph

Smithwick Tribunal: Irish police officer Leo Colton denies any IRA involvement

By Luke Byrne

One of the gardai who appeared in front of the Smithwick Tribunal has rejected its findings.

The tribunal concluded that certain unnamed gardai had helped the IRA in the murder of the RUC's Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan.

It found that former sergeant Leo Colton, in the course of 1995 and 1996, assisted the Provisional IRA by having a former colleague sign false passport applications.

But the judge said the evidence did not establish that he colluded with the Provisional IRA in the murders of the two officers.

Yesterday Mr Colton denied that he had any involvement with the IRA.

"While he respects the integrity of the chairman of the tribunal he denies any involvement with the IRA in the past or present or indeed with any other subversive group," a spokesman said.

Former sergeant Finbarr Hickey was found not to be at the station before the murders, and nor was he an IRA sympathiser.

He was involved in assisting the IRA with procuring false passports, but not deliberately.

"I welcome the conclusion of the Smithwick Tribunal," Mr Hickey said, adding that the process had been "immensely stressful" on him and his family. "I am pleased that the tribunal has accepted my evidence that I had no hand, act or part in any collusion," he said.

Former detective inspector Owen Corrigan was found to have had a series of inappropriate dealings with the Provisional IRA.

But Judge Smithwick was not satisfied the evidence was of sufficient substance and weight to establish that Mr Corrigan did collude in the fatal shootings of both RUC officers.

Mr Corrigan could not be contacted yesterday. Residents living near his bar, Corrigan's, in Drogheda, Co Louth, said that it had been closed for up to a year.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph