Belfast Telegraph

Top garda criticises handling of collusion allegations

By Sarah Stack

One of the Republic's most senior policemen has criticised the handling of intelligence by police in Northern Ireland about alleged collusion between gardai and the IRA.

Det Chief Sup Peter Kirwan said his force was not given a "half chance" to respond to some claims made to the Smithwick Tribunal, despite usually having a seamless relationship with the PSNI and British Security Services.

A summary of intelligence highlighting alleged collusion was given to the tribunal by PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris and made public in October.

The 12 new strands of intelligence – which were said to be live intelligence and of the moment – were deemed to be reliable and accurate by Mr Harris, who denied the PSNI had "sat on" it and withheld it from gardai.

The summary claimed gardai passed on information leading to the IRA's double murder of Lord Justice Gibson and his wife in 1987 and that a senior member of the IRA had several gardai who passed information to him.

Another of the revelations alleged that IRA man Mooch Blair was not involved in the 1989 murders of RUC Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan because he was engaged in a separate operation and repeated claims from Blair that a "garda spy" played a part in the killings.

Judge Peter Smithwick is investigating whether gardai colluded with Provisional IRA units in the 1989 killings.

Det Chief Sup Kirwan said: "We have no issue with the sharing of information on the workings of the relationship between PSNI and the British security services with the tribunal. The issue arises when the sharing with others directly impacts on the Garda and we're not given even a half chance of interpreting what it means."

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