Belfast Telegraph

Doubts on IRA murder probe deadline

The solicitor for the family of one of two senior RUC officers murdered in an IRA ambush has questioned a Government imposed deadline to complete the inquiry.

The Smithwick Tribunal began its first substantive public hearings with a 72-page detailed opening statement by its senior counsel Mary Laverty in Dublin.

The inquiry, established in 2005, is examining allegations that gardai, or a civilian working in the force, colluded with the IRA in the killing of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan in a border ambush on March 20 1989.

It began investigations in March 2006 and interviewed more than 200 witnesses behind closed doors.

The Dail last week voted to alter the inquiry's terms of reference to ensure an interim report is provided by the end of June and a final one by November.

John McBurney, solicitor for Mr Breen's wife June and two children David and Gillian, said the inquiry is trawling through a vast amount of detailed work.

"Anyone who sat in the Tribunal today and heard an opening statement that took over two hours to read and is 72 pages long, can wonder how is this going to be finished?" Mr McBurney said.

"How is the report to be completed and before the Dail on November 30? If it's possible, then so be it.

"Nobody wants to elongate the process one day longer than need be. This is going to be so difficult for everyone to deal with."

Mr McBurney praised the painstaking investigation by Judge Peter Smithwick and the Tribunal team.

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