Donaldson:I was told police officer helped IRA
The DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson has told a tribunal, centred around the murders of two high-ranking RUC men, that a former British agent inside the IRA tipped him off that a Garda sergeant in Dundalk had passed information to the IRA.
The Lagan Valley MP testified yesterday at the Smithwick Tribunal in Dublin which was set up to investigate alleged collusion in the deaths of two senior police officers in 1989.
Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan were shot dead by the IRA in south Armagh as they returned from a meeting at Dundalk Garda Station.
Following his one-day appearance at the inquiry, Mr Donaldson told the Belfast Telegraph that he hoped the probe would provide the families of the dead officers “the truth that they need”.
During yesterday’s hearing, Mr Donaldson said Kevin Fulton was his only source that led to his naming of retired Detective Sergeant Owen Corrigan, under parliamentary privilege in the House of Commons in April 2000, as being a “rogue garda”.
Mr Corrigan has denied all allegations of collusion.
Mr Donaldson said he met with Newry man Mr Fulton, real name Peter Keely, twice before making his statement in the House of Commons in April 2000.
“I wanted to be sure Kevin Fulton was who he said he was,” he told the hearing.
“I sought to confirm this from a senior member of the security forces, who did.”
Mr Donaldson declined to publicly name the senior security forces person he had met with. However, he did write the person’s name on a piece of paper for Judge Peter Smithwick.
Mr Donaldson denied that he used Owen Corrigan as ‘bait' for the setting up of an inquiry.
“By naming Owen Corrigan I was demonstrating that there was evidence that was important and relevant that strengthened the case for holding a public inquiry, I do not regret it,” he said.
He agreed with Jim O'Callaghan, counsel for Mr Corrigan, that if the tribunal did not conclude that Mr Corrigan was an IRA mole he would be right to feel aggrieved.
But Mr Donaldson disagreed that there was “no necessity” to name Mr Corrigan.
Stating he had a “mandate”, Mr Donaldson said: “It's a matter of judgement. The judgement I make as a politician is to do what I believe is in the public interest.”
Speaking after the hearing, Mr Donaldson said: “I hope that the Tribunal comes to a conclusion that gives the families the truth that they need.”
The tribunal continues.