IRA collusion report 'ignored'

A top Garda who became head of the force ignored allegations a sergeant was colluding with the IRA, a major corruption inquiry has heard.

The late Eugene Crowley was told in 1987 that a Garda officer stationed near the border was “unnecessarily assisting” the terror group but appeared disinterested, a retired chief superintendent has claimed.

The Smithwick Tribunal also heard claims Mr Crowley had been warned of death threats against an RUC officer up to a year before he was killed in an IRA ambush.

Superintendent Bob Buchanan was murdered with colleague Chief Superintendent Harry Breen near the border after a meeting at Dundalk Garda Station in March 1989. The tribunal is investigating allegations of IRA/Garda collusion.

Retired Garda Chief Superintendent Tom Curran said he wrote to Mr Crowley, the then Assistant Commissioner in charge of crime and security, in Garda Headquarters in Dublin about a threat against Mr Buchanan’s life between March and October 1988.

“At one stage in my service in Monaghan when, during Bob Buchanan’s time there, I was speaking to a man who I believed was a member of the IRA and he told me that Bob Buchanan was going to be shot,” said Mr Curran.

“The words he used was ’there’s a fella crossing the border there to see you and he is going to be shot’.

“You’re never sure about the validity of stories like that from informers but it was a serious matter as far as I was concerned so I wrote direct to crime and security giving that information.”

Mr Curran said while Mr Crowley was the assistant commissioner when the allegations were made, he thought a Michael Diffley handled security reports.

The tribunal heard the document noting the threat has never been located, while Mr Diffley has said any report would have been acted on.

Mr Curran, who was in charge of border security in the Monaghan region from 1981 to 1999, told the tribunal he regularly held formal and informal meetings with Mr Buchanan.

He revealed that in the first half of 1987 he was told by Mr Buchanan the RUC had information that then Dundalk-based Det Sergeant Owen Corrigan was “unnecessarily assisting” the IRA.

“I questioned him a little bit about the information and I got the impression he was only the messenger,” said Mr Curran.

“He said he had no details of the information. He asked me to convey that to the assistant commissioner in charge, which I said I would.”

Mr Curran – who stressed he had no evidence of collusion – said he visited Mr Crowley the next time he was in Dublin for a court case.

“When I went in he was reading a file and I told him the purpose of my visit and I told him the information that was passed on to me by Bob Buchanan and other bits, hearsay I had heard about Owen Corrigan,” he continued.

“He kept looking at the file and when I was finished he said to me how were things in Monaghan town.

“We discussed activities in Monaghan but he never mentioned anything about the conversation I went there to tell him.”

Mr Curran said he got the impression the assistant commissioner did not want to hear it so he left.

“He didn’t acknowledge it in any way or ask questions about it,” he added.

Mr Crowley – who was Garda Commissioner when the men were killed – told investigators in 2008 that he had no suspicions about any collusion at the time.

The tribunal has heard Mr Corrigan has denied any collusion.

Mr Breen and Mr Buchanan were two of the highest-ranking RUC officers killed in the Troubles.

Mr Curran said despite being a friend with his RUC counterpart, he never told Mr Buchanan about the IRA threat.

“I didn’t want him to get the impression we were trying to prevent him from coming over,” said Mr Curran, who was later promoted to chief superintendent.

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