Northern Ireland

Smithwick: Senior Garda makes 'outlandish claims'

Ch Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan
Image caption Ch Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan were murdered by the IRA in south Armagh in 1989

One of the most senior Garda (Irish police) officers has been accused of making "outlandish" and "self-serving" claims about PSNI evidence to the Smithwick Tribunal.

The hearing is investigating claims of Garda collusion in the IRA murders of two Northern Ireland policemen in 1989.

The Head of the Garda's Security and Intelligence has demanded to see evidence alleging a senior IRA man was getting information from the Garda.

The PSNI have refused.

The PSNI said they are unable to give the evidence to Peter Kirwan as they need to protect their source.

According to Det Chief Supt Kirwan, that makes it impossible for him to assess the evidence.

This row between the forces is based on evidence previously given to the tribunal by PSNI Assistant Chief Constable, Drew Harris.

He said the PSNI has current and recent intelligence alleging a senior IRA man was getting information from Gardai, including a senior officer.

The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers - Ch Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan - were shot dead in an IRA ambush in south Armagh, shortly after they left a meeting at Dundalk Garda station.

On Friday, the PSNI legal team accused Mr Kirwan of being "self-serving" and making "outlandish claims" which gave no credence to the evidence of ACC Harris.

The families of the two murdered senior RUC officers at the centre of the tribunal have appealed to the Gardai and the PSNI to overcome their disagreements.

Ernie Waterworth, solicitor for the Buchanan family, said there appeared to be a lack of trust between the PSNI and the Garda at a senior level.

"This begs the question whether there can ever be full disclosure between both forces."

The solicitor for the Breen family, John McBurney, said it must be possible for senior officers in all the law agencies involved to liaise properly to ensure their is a full investigation into the intelligence alleging collusion.

That, he said, should be done quickly.

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