What about Dublin? Spotlight

What about Dublin?

Hard-hitting investigations on life in Northern Ireland. Stephen Dempster examines the role of the Irish state during the Troubles.

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The Irish State is being asked to explain its role in the Troubles.


We certainly feel that the Irish Government could have done a lot


more to stop the campaign of genocide that was happening in


Fermanagh, Tyrone, South Armagh and Londonderry as well. Unionists


return to this and try to claim that if it wasn't for the Irish


Government there wouldn't have been the IRA campaign. I think it is


what-about-ery. There is no memory whatever of collusion between the


Irish State, passive or active, and the IRA. My party was totally,


totally against the use of violence in achieving their political aims.


Totally, 100%, 101%. Next time I'm in Dublin I certainly will be


talking about these matters. issue of the Irish State's attitude


and actions have also been thrown centre stage by a tribunal in


Dublin investigating allegations that Gardai colluded with the IRA.


Will Ireland answer a unionist call to apologise for... The British


Army suffered its biggest loss of life in the Troubles when two bombs


were detonated here in the North, from across the water in the south.


Throughout the Troubles, questions were raised about the Irish State's


role. As unionists complained the republic provided a sanctionary for


on the run terrorists. As politicians contest the past, the


history of the Troubles can appear an exercise in what-about-ery. To


the next generation the question, what about allegations of Irish


State collusion with the IRA, may come to appear it no more than the


obvious rejoineder to cries of what about British collusion with


It was as a result of political negotiations at Weston Park over a


decade ago that a number of inquiries into alleged British and


Irish collusion were set up. In Dublin, one of those inquiries, led


by judge Peter Smithwick has been examining claims of gardai


collusion in the IRA murder two of police officers. Chief


Superintendent Harry Breen and Border Superintendent Bob Buchanan


were travelling back across the border after a meeting with their


Irish gardai counterparts in Dundalk on March 20, 1989. They


were ambushed by a gang of IRA gunmen. What is this? Reverse,


They were the two most senior policemen murdered during the


Troubles. I was meant to the in the car. Harry and I were going down


that morning. Alan Mains was Harry Breen's staff officer, but his


place on the trip to Dundalk was taken instead by Bob Buchanan.


Officers Breen and Buchanan went to Dundalk to discuss a possible


operation against Thomas Slab Murphy, who they identified as IRA


chief in South Armagh. Harry Breen had been worried about travelling


there because he suspected some guards had links to the IRA. He had


a lot of reservations about it. You know, I think it was more to do


with the fact that it was Murphy and he did mention his concerns,


clearly to me, at the time, about the fact that people were on, in


Harry's opinion, were on the pay roll of Slab Murphy from the


Guardian. Harry Breen also knew he was among the IRA's top targets,


after he appeared in the media following the SAS SAS ambush at


Loughall in which eight IRA men had been killed.


NEWSREEL: The weapons are very high-powered. It's evident that not


only did the terrorists intend to destroy the station, but also to


kill any of the ok ue paints in the -- occupants in the station. It was


a serious set back to the RUC. was a significant blow with


especially Harry. He would have had tremendous knowledge as a Constable


in Crossmaglen, right through to being a Chief Superintendent for


the division. There was probably nothing that he didn't know in


terms of personalities within the Provisional IRA. The question has


always been, how did the IRA know that two policemen were on the road


that day? Specifically, was there a leak from Dundalk Gardai Station?


Harry Breen's staff arranged the 34509ing in Dundalk by phone only


hours before took place at 2.0 Peter Mandelson --2.00pm. On the


day itself between 9.00 am and 10.15 am several phone calls


occurred. Firming up the arrangements. Just over an hour


after these calls, around 11.30 am. It's understood that British Army


listening devices in South Armagh picked up a rush of IRA


communications. Was this the start of the preparation for the IRA


attack? If it was, how did the IRA know to get ready when only a


handful of people in Newry and Dundalk police stations say they


knew about the meeting? The officers' car couldn't have been


spotted before, this because they didn't leave Newry until after


1.30pm. The question the tribunal is obviously addressing very


directly is, whether or not the Provisional IRA had information


beyond 10.10/10.15 am that the men were coming? Expert witnesses have


said that to spot the officers' carat 1.30pm and mount the huge


operation just after 3.30pm would surely have been impossible. The


IRA was either already covering the roads or tipped off about the trip


Journalists Chris Ryder, says republican terrorists viewed the


South as a hiding place from security forces in Northern Ireland.


Dundalk at one stage was known as Gundalk. Many people who left


Northern Ireland to avoid justice went on the run and stayed on the


run in the Republic of Ireland. They generally felt that it was a


safe haven. It is a view shared by General Sir John Wilsey, a former


head of the British Army in Northern Ireland. A successful


terrorist organisation must have a safe border behind which to shelter.


You must have a population or a community or an area or a base


which is protected and safe. This man, known as Kevin Fulton,


appeared before the Tribunal and said he was a former British Army


agent. He infill straited the IRA's South Down unit. The engineering


and the bomb make woog have been 99% based in the south. Had you no


RUC or covert army units running around. You made bombs and they


went all over Northern Ireland. They would have gone up as far ace


as Derry/Londonderry, Belfast, North Down, South Down, they went


everywhere, Cookstown. Kevin Fulton is significant because he has given


key evidence to the Smithwick Tribunal claiming he was present


when a Dundalk guard passed information to the IRA. That


evidence was privotal to the inquiry being set up into the


deaths of Breen and Buchanan. But it is also highly controversial.


The Tribunal has heard Kevin Fulton described as "an intelligence


nuisance", and "a compulsive liar" likely to provide false information.


The triebuen hall has though heard that Fulton provided good


intelligence on many occasions. Whether or not Smithwick ultimately


believes his story, what this inquiry has done is shine a light


on the role of the Irish State and Border security was a major point


of contention between Britain and Ireland. The bombing at Narrow


Water in August 179 brought it into sharp focus. 18 soldiers were


killed outside Warrenpoint when the IRA detonated two bombs from across


the border, a short distance away. They were in the south. So they


were unmolested. They knew they were completely untouched. We could


do nothing about it. Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, immediately flew


to Northern Ireland and began to pressure the Irish for tougher


security. As part of the negotiations for the Anglo Irish


Agreement in 1985, better security co-operation led to increased


staffing at Dundalk Gardai station. Recently leaked American government


cables reveal that Thatcher felt Dublin was still dragging it is


feet on security by 1987. She even offered British funding to train


Irish police and army in anti- terror tactics. An offer that Irish


Justice Minister Gerry Collins says was turned down. It was our


responsibility to fulfill or our constitutional obligations. That we


did. About We understand that Judge Smithwick has been searching


through Thatcher's and Fitzgerald briefing papers for a gardai leak.


Rumours about a Dundalk mole were rife. The Tribunal heard that an


RUC Special Branch document from that year named a particular guard.


The INLA had a big funeral here. These rumours became known in


Dundalk itself, says Dan Prenty, who was a Detective Inspector in


the town during the 80s, but no-one investigated. It was going on for a


long time. Really, it was not much notice was taken of it, to be


honest about it. It was never as seenious -- serious enough for a


major investigation to be carried out into it. A former Monaghan


Chief Superintendent, Tom Curran, told Smithwick that in 197 Bob


Buchanan actually asked him to raise concern at Gardai HQ. He said


he went to Assistant Commissioner Eugene Crowley and told him that


the RUC was concerned that a guard was associating with the IRA. He


claimed that Crowley barely looked up from the flies he was reading as


sur ran told Smithwick "in a very short time I got the opinion he


didn't want to hear it, so I left". Curran also told the Tribunal that


Bob Buchanan named the man Owen Corrigan as the guard who links to


the IRA. Owen Corrigan was unavailable for this programme. But


he is seen here speaking to Spotlight? South Armagh has been


part of the Troubles. A unique part of the subversive activity on the


border. In a statement before he died Crowley said he had never


heard anything about Corrigan. Owen Corrigan is the same guard Kevin


Fulton told Smithwick he witnessed passing information to the IRA.


Owen Corrigan has strenuously denied all allegations against him.


His solicitor points out that he has successfully sued over such


allegations in the past. His record has been defended by fellow


officers. He has been commended for fighting terrorism, including


handing over INLA man, Dominic McGlinchey, to the RUC. His


solicitor has evidence to show he was on sick leave at the time Kevin


Fulton says he was passing information to the IRA. Two further


guards from Dundalk station have come under suspicion too. They also


dispute the allegations. The Irish authorities appear to have done


very little to investigate a leak. It was only after the Breen and


Buchanan murders that they launched an internal investigation. Before


that began, just hours after the killings, the RUC and the guards


dismissed all claims of a leak. reject any suggestion of that kind.


I can say now that categorically the evidence which we have firmly


confirms to us that was no mole. Can you indicate... No, not at this


time. How could both men have been so sure there was no mole just


hours after the murders? A former senior Special Branch officers, and


an ex-kept deputy Constable, have told Spotlight, in their experience,


they could not have made this call so soon. I think that they had to


do that for reassurance reasons, Sir John Hermon would have been


mindful of the fact that he could have triggered off a response or


retaliation by loyalist elements. Indeed, created a situation where


the RUC rank and file would refuse to co-operate with the Gardai.


Irish Justice Minister Gerry Collins and Eugene Crowley met and


Crowley sent a senior guard to investigate in Dundalk. Before he


had even reached Dundalk Gardai station Eugene Crowley had given a


statement to say there was no mole in Dundalk Gardai station am, how


could Crowley do that? I can't answer that. If Commissioner Eugene


Crowley said that, that was the belief he had at the time. Would


you think it was strange to make a statement before you had the facts


to hand and the report to hand? Again, I can't answer that it was


an internal police decision. Smithwick has heard evidence that


suggests the gardai investigation was limited in scope. Many officers


on the morning shift on the day of the murders were not even


questioned. None of those officers were searched down and interviewed.


That, to me, would have been one of the most important lines of inquiry.


Extraordinarily, the tribunal also heard evidence that the officers


who carried outlet investigation were never ordered to investigate a


leak, but instead were merely told to establish officers' movements at


Dundalk Gardai Station on the day of the murders. So how then cot


final report to Eugene Crowley, one month later, confidently state in


its conclusion, "there is no leak in Dundalk Gardai Station"? For


some it suggests that the inquiry was window dressing which allowed


Gardai to say they had investigated. But any suggestion of the State


avoiding the issue of a leak is hotly contestant. Do you think


there would be reluctance in the Irish State to fully investigate


the issue because of the potential political ramifications? No, none


what so ever. The sort of innuendo in that question is that such might


have existed. It did not exist. The government is bona fide and beyond


question. In January 1990 a special Gardai task force planned to raid


the home of IRA quartermaster, Michael McKevitt looking for a


false passport. The night before the raid, Dundalk guards were told


of the operation. An ex-guard, Dan Prenty, has told Smithwick that


shortly after a phone call was made to Warren McKevitt. So is this


definitive evidence that someone in the Dundalk guards was tipping off


the IRA less than a year after the Breen and Buchanan murders.


McKevitt has denied receiving such a call. Smithwick has heard his


phone was tapped, so the question is is, is there a tape of this


alleged tip-off and where is it? Smithwick also located Gardai


intelligence documents containing claims that the IRA had friends in


Dundalk's police force. Yet it seems there was still no action


taken. But this idea of a soft approach is strongly rejected by


ex-Dundalk detective Dan Prenty. The film taps into the belief that


there were some rotten Apples in the guards. Is this there any truth


in it? Sean oh Callaghan is a former IRA commander and police


informer. He was invited to give evidence to Smithwick but declined.


He claims the guards were not as tough on on the IRA as they could


have been. I remember one occasion being arrested and this gardai


detective, who had just known he me for years, there was a young gardai


detective, literally new. He walks in and he says to this garda


detective. He says, "you sit there, Sean is going to sit there. You ask


some questions and Sean will educate you". He walked off


laughing. But any idea of a soft approach is strongly rejected by


ex-Dundalk detective Dan Prenty. Were you as a guard ever directed


to go easy on the IRA? Never. That was never policy at all. Never. The


guards at all times always at every chance confronted the IRA But Sean


oh Callaghan alleges son-in-law guards were sympathetic to the IRA.


He was aware of a senior IRA man, now a politician, who was handling


a gardai contact in the mid 0's. That contact was paid �5,000, which


I knew, for the IRA, was a huge amount of money for the IRA to pay


in those circumstances. I was the OC of the IRA Southern Command, but


I wasn't handling this. Or I wasn't allowed to hand this. This was


being handled a pay grade above me, if you like. But it wasn't just the


guards who were an issue for the British Government. General will si,


who had seven tours on duet tkwri in Northern Ireland said he was


frustrated that he never once was able to speak one-to-one with his


Irish army counterparts. We were not to have any dealings with the


British Army. Which, as far as Dublin was concerned, was an alien


army, an occupying army. Dublin didn't want to have any dealings


with us. What difference would co- operation with Irish arm have made?


It could have brought the troubles to a halt, I would have thought.


Kevin Myers was a Dublin journalist working in Belfast during the


Troubles who later wrote an article which made allegations of Gardai


collusion that played a part in the creation of the Smithwick Tribunal.


Fianna Fail government ministers actively encouraged the formation


of the Provisional IRA. Actively fed money, government money, to the


IRA. They helped to arm the IRA. They gave moral support to the IRA.


They were sympathetic to the cause of a united Ireland. That was


official Irish policy. Now the Irish State couldn't engage in a


war with Britain to do that. There were elements there who said, let


the IRA do the dirty work. former Fianna Fail Justice Minister


finds this view offensive. My party was totally, totally against the


use of violence in achieving their political aims. Totally 100%, 101%.


Brian Feeney argues the plot by some Irish government ministers to


arm the IRA in the 70s did not have the backing of the state. That was


not the Irish government. There were a couple of individuals. There


is no doubt there were individuals, particularly in Fianna Fail who did


want to send guns to the North. The Irish Government stamped on the


plot and threw out the people who were involved and put them on trial.


He also says that unionist claims the Irish State turned a blind eye


or allowed the IRA to do its dirty work are "laughable". This is a


familiar unionist myth that the Irish State was very worried about


the role of the IRA and the prospect at certain times of IRA


destabilising the Irish State. Historically, it was extradition


which was the major source of contention between the British and


Irish. A point which Jack Lynch felt the heat over after Narrow


Water. It was the the failure of the government to extradite known


IRA terrorist to the North. Any excuse was found not to do this.


Until the mid 80s Irish law meant IRA members could escape


extradition to the North to face terrorist charges by saying


political motivation. extradition laws were difficult. In


the 1980s, 30 years ago now, they wouldn't extradite people who had


escaped from jail in the North because people who had escaped from


prison in the Big Escape were badly beaten by prison soldiers and


prison wardens. When they were brought back again so they weren't


extradited because of danger of injury. Evelyn Glenholmes ended not


in extradition but in farce. Figures reveal that 113 extradition


requests for terrorist related offences made to the republic


between 1973 and 1997, only eelgt were granted. Dan Prenty says it


was not the fault of the guards, but it was the fault of the courts


and the State. Every one that came to Dundalk were executed and the


person taken before the district court. I felt bad about the fact I


had executed the warrants, taken to court and no no progress to report.


Gerry Collins seems reluctant to get into this thorny issue? Were we


any different from any other country at the time? I know the


French you couldn't extradite a fly out of France.. Leave that question


for someone else. OK? The Dublin Government is now await Smithwick's


findings. The hearings will run until at least Easter and a final


report is expected later this year. With the clock ticking, the Breen


family solicitor says the tribunal may set up a videolink in Northern


Ireland to encourage witnesses who have yet to come forward. Of those,


of whom I know, there would be four Ministry of Defence witnesses which


would include, for example, a soldier who was present on the


ground at the relevant periods of time. Getting to the truth though


is a long and difficult process. The Secretary of State is currently


holding talks with the Stormont political parties in an effort to


find a process to deal with the legacy of the Troubles. In recent


months, like the Irish government, he too has been made fully aware


that the past remains a toxic issue. I was so angry with the Prime


Minister that I actually -- called a halt to the meeting. Days after


David Cameron told the family of Pat Finucane they would not get a


full public inquiry. Enda Kenny said he would raise their case in


London, Europe and Washington. response from the Irish government


has been non-co-operation in terms of meeting to discuss these issues.


Enda Kenny and his government can't have it both ways. He can't travel


around the world saying, I want to know the truth, I want a public


inquiry. In the Finucane case and at the same time deny hundreds of


people the right to question the Irish government on their role.


Danny Kennedy says he's tried for nearly nine months to get a full


meeting with the Taoiseach but only managed to get a chat at a North-


South Ministerial Council meeting in Armagh. I presented Enda Kenny


with a dossier detailing the murders of 159 members of the


forces or individuals at the hands of South Armagh republicans wo who


had operated from his jurisdiction. They have to stand up and say it


was wrong and they have to apologise. Spotlight has also the


Taoiseach and the Tanaiste and the Foreign Minister to talk about


these issues. No-one at Leinster House was available for interview.


It was the same response from the Gardai. For some, chasing down


either government is a game of sectarian what-about-ery. I think


in both cases you have a political agenda going on there. When


republicans seek apologies from the British government what they are


out to show is that it was all the British government fault. And on


the unionist side there is also a political agenda to try and


demonstrate that it wasn't an insurrection it was some outside


force that destabilised Northern Ireland which was a great wee place


before 69. For Jeffrey Donaldson and other unionists this is not


what-about-ery, but a demand for parity for unionist concerns and


he's adamant that they -- there can be no greed mechanism for dealing


with the past until this issue is addressed. They they want to be


included in the future they have to be accountable for the past.


As a Dublin tribunal investigates allegations of IRA/Garda collusion, Stephen Dempster examines the role of the Irish state during the Troubles.

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