Smithwick Tribunal, Sinn Fein, Provisional IRA, RUC Murders
The Smithwick Tribunal
The Smithwick Tribunal of Inquiry into suggestions that members of An Garda Síochána or other employees of the State colluded in the fatal shootings of RUC Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and RUC Superintendent Robert Buchanan on the 20th March, 1989, was established by Resolutions passed by Dail Eireann and Seanad Eireann on the 23rd and 24th March 2005 respectively, and by Instrument entitled Tribunals of Inquiry Evidence Act 1921 (Establishment of Tribunal) Instrument 2005.
The Smithwick Tribunal is operating on the premise that Harry Breen and Robert Buchanan were executed by the Provisional IRA because they were RUC officers, this is not correct. Harry Breen and Robert Buchanan were executed by the Provisional IRA as both officers lead the British Team that executed 8 IRA volunteers at Loughgall on the 7th of May 1987, including IRA Commanders Jim Lynagh and Patrick Kelly. Harry Breen, Robert Buchanan, a Senior M15 Officer and SAS Commander were the lead team tasked with taking out the East Tyrone IRA Team at Loughgall.
The Loughgall informer remains alive and well in Monaghan Town, while the identity of the Loughgall informer has been known to the IRA in Monaghan for many years, the republican movement in Monaghan decided that his execution would not be in the political interests of Sinn Fein and so the Loughgall informer has simply been side-lined in Monaghan.
Both Harry Breen and Robert Buchanan were present at the RUC forensic Lab in Belfast, three weeks before the Loughgall executions when an SAS unit used the firing range below the Forensic Lab to test fire weapons similar to those that would be used by the PIRA unit at Loughgall. On the night that the SAS Team test fired these weapons, the weapons were signed in and out of the firing range in the normal fashion, so records do exist. The reason the SAS Team test fired similar weapons to those that would be used by the IRA unit at Loughgall was so that the SAS Team could distinguish between friendly and enemy fire on the night of the Loughgall executions. The SAS Team and their back up units were instructed to execute everyone in the kill zone as soon as the IRA Team opened fire on the unmanned RUC station. The IRA Team Modus Operandi was to open fire in an act of bravado to intimidate the local Protestant community.
Information about RUC officers travelling to and from Garda Stations in the Republic had been known to the IRA for many years, in the weeks running up to the Loughgall executions Jim Lynagh had placed one of his men close to a Garda station to monitor such activity. However, the IRA did not kill nor intend to kill every RUC officer that they had intelligence about, it was much more important to the IRA to watch, monitor and act only where desirable. Harry Breen and Robert Buchanan had been on the IRA books for a long time before they were executed; it was only when the full involvement of Breen and Buchanan in relation to the Loughgall executions was established that they became targets of interest to the IRA. The executions of Harry Breen and Robert Buchanan were specifically sanctioned by Kevin McKenna and Thomas Slab Murphy, the IRA unit who carried out the executions operated directly under the orders of Thomas Slab Murphy.
The question for the Smithwick Tribunal is whether a Garda/Gardai assisted the IRA in the executions of Harry Breen and Robert Buchanan. The answer is simply no; the IRA unit who carried out the executions of Breen and Buchanan were never going to ‘act’ directly on information provided to them by a state agent. This is not to say that the IRA never received information from members of the Gardai and Freestate Army, because they did, however, no IRA commander was ever going to take a unit out on active service on information provided about an immediate operation.
Over the years some Gardai and Freestate soldiers did provide information to the IRA, this information would have been about border patrols, tip offs about raids, location of armoury within an army barracks and so forth, however, it is highly unlikely that any IRA commander is going to put an operation into place purely on information provided by a Garda/Freestate soldier.
Garda stations, particularly in border areas were constantly monitored by the IRA, car details were noted and logged, the registrations and details of these cars would be compared with information gathered by IRA members/supporters in counties Tyrone, Armagh and Fermanagh.
When Michael McKevitt (Real IRA/serving 20 years) told the Smithwick Tribunal that he had never received a tip-off from a Garda about an imminent raid on his home, McKevitt was most likely lying, as this is the type of information that would have been available to the IRA from certain Gardaí. However, it is likely that those engaged in the IRA operation that executed Breen and Buchanan, and who have told the Smithwick Tribunal that the Gardai did not provide the information that lead to the execution of Breen and Buchanan, were telling the truth.
It is being alleged at the Smithwick Tribunal that Garda Corrigan also told the IRA that Tom Oliver was a Garda Informer, the fact that Dundalk was riddled with informers; one would have to wonder why Tom Oliver would be singled out, particularly when it is claimed by those who knew Tom Oliver that he was never an informer.
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