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.

:00:14.:00:17.

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

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more to stop the campaign of genocide that was happening in

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

:00:26.:00:29.

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

:00:29.:00:34.

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

:00:34.:00:38.

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

:00:38.:00:43.

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

:00:43.:00:46.

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

:00:46.:00:52.

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

:00:52.:00:56.

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

:00:56.:01:01.

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

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Dublin investigating allegations that Gardai colluded with the IRA.

:01:09.:01:19.
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Will Ireland answer a unionist call to apologise for... The British

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

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

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

:02:01.:02:07.

role. As unionists complained the republic provided a sanctionary for

:02:07.:02:13.

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

:02:13.:02:17.

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

:02:17.:02:21.

the next generation the question, what about allegations of Irish

:02:21.:02:27.

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

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obvious rejoineder to cries of what about British collusion with

:02:32.:02:42.
:02:42.:02:51.

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

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decade ago that a number of inquiries into alleged British and

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

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by judge Peter Smithwick has been examining claims of gardai

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collusion in the IRA murder two of police officers. Chief

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Superintendent Harry Breen and Border Superintendent Bob Buchanan

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were travelling back across the border after a meeting with their

:03:17.:03:22.

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

:03:22.:03:32.

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

:03:32.:03:42.
:03:42.:03:49.

They were the two most senior policemen murdered during the

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

:03:54.:03:57.

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

:03:57.:04:02.

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

:04:02.:04:06.

Officers Breen and Buchanan went to Dundalk to discuss a possible

:04:06.:04:12.

operation against Thomas Slab Murphy, who they identified as IRA

:04:12.:04:18.

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

:04:18.:04:23.

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

:04:23.:04:27.

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

:04:27.:04:33.

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

:04:33.:04:38.

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

:04:38.:04:44.

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

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

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

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Loughall in which eight IRA men had been killed.

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

:05:01.:05:09.

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

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

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

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

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in Crossmaglen, right through to being a Chief Superintendent for

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

:05:35.:05:37.

terms of personalities within the Provisional IRA. The question has

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

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

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

:05:54.:06:04.
:06:04.:06:06.

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

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day itself between 9.00 am and 10.15 am several phone calls

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occurred. Firming up the arrangements. Just over an hour

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

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listening devices in South Armagh picked up a rush of IRA

:06:25.:06:29.

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

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

:06:33.:06:37.

handful of people in Newry and Dundalk police stations say they

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

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

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1.30pm. The question the tribunal is obviously addressing very

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directly is, whether or not the Provisional IRA had information

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

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

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

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

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Journalists Chris Ryder, says republican terrorists viewed the

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

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

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

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

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

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head of the British Army in Northern Ireland. A successful

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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key evidence to the Smithwick Tribunal claiming he was present

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when a Dundalk guard passed information to the IRA. That

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evidence was privotal to the inquiry being set up into the

:08:56.:09:02.

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

:09:02.:09:06.

The Tribunal has heard Kevin Fulton described as "an intelligence

:09:06.:09:12.

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

:09:13.:09:16.

The triebuen hall has though heard that Fulton provided good

:09:16.:09:21.

intelligence on many occasions. Whether or not Smithwick ultimately

:09:21.:09:24.

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

:09:24.:09:34.
:09:34.:09:44.

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

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of contention between Britain and Ireland. The bombing at Narrow

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

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killed outside Warrenpoint when the IRA detonated two bombs from across

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

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

:10:13.:10:17.

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

:10:17.:10:22.

to Northern Ireland and began to pressure the Irish for tougher

:10:22.:10:26.

security. As part of the negotiations for the Anglo Irish

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

:10:33.:10:38.

staffing at Dundalk Gardai station. Recently leaked American government

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cables reveal that Thatcher felt Dublin was still dragging it is

:10:41.:10:46.

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

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

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

:10:56.:11:00.

responsibility to fulfill or our constitutional obligations. That we

:11:00.:11:06.

did. About We understand that Judge Smithwick has been searching

:11:06.:11:12.

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

:11:12.:11:18.

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

:11:18.:11:27.

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

:11:27.:11:32.

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

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

:11:36.:11:41.

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

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

:11:46.:11:55.

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

:11:55.:12:02.

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

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

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

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he went to Assistant Commissioner Eugene Crowley and told him that

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

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

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

:12:30.:12:38.

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

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

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

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

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

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

:13:03.:13:06.

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

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Fulton told Smithwick he witnessed passing information to the IRA.

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Owen Corrigan has strenuously denied all allegations against him.

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His solicitor points out that he has successfully sued over such

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

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officers. He has been commended for fighting terrorism, including

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

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

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

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

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dispute the allegations. The Irish authorities appear to have done

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

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Buchanan murders that they launched an internal investigation. Before

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

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

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

:14:14.:14:21.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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retaliation by loyalist elements. Indeed, created a situation where

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

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Irish Justice Minister Gerry Collins and Eugene Crowley met and

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

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had even reached Dundalk Gardai station Eugene Crowley had given a

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

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

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

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

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

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an internal police decision. Smithwick has heard evidence that

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suggests the gardai investigation was limited in scope. Many officers

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

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

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

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Extraordinarily, the tribunal also heard evidence that the officers

:16:04.:16:08.

who carried outlet investigation were never ordered to investigate a

:16:08.:16:15.

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

:16:15.:16:19.

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

:16:19.:16:22.

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

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

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some it suggests that the inquiry was window dressing which allowed

:16:33.:16:37.

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

:16:37.:16:42.

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

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there would be reluctance in the Irish State to fully investigate

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

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

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

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

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the home of IRA quartermaster, Michael McKevitt looking for a

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

:17:16.:17:23.

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

:17:23.:17:28.

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

:17:28.:17:32.

definitive evidence that someone in the Dundalk guards was tipping off

:17:32.:17:37.

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

:17:38.:17:41.

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

:17:42.:17:46.

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

:17:46.:17:51.

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

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intelligence documents containing claims that the IRA had friends in

:17:54.:17:58.

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

:17:58.:18:07.

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

:18:07.:18:17.
:18:17.:18:31.

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

:18:31.:18:35.

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

:18:35.:18:41.

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

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

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

:18:50.:18:56.

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

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

:19:01.:19:05.

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

:19:05.:19:11.

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

:19:11.:19:15.

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

:19:15.:19:22.

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

:19:22.:19:25.

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

:19:25.:19:31.

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

:19:31.:19:38.

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

:19:39.:19:45.

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

:19:45.:19:52.

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

:19:52.:19:57.

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

:19:57.:20:01.

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

:20:01.:20:06.

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

:20:06.:20:11.

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

:20:11.:20:21.

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

:20:21.:20:25.

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

:20:25.:20:29.

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

:20:29.:20:34.

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

:20:34.:20:38.

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

:20:38.:20:44.

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

:20:44.:20:48.

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

:20:48.:20:53.

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

:20:53.:21:00.

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

:21:00.:21:05.

Kevin Myers was a Dublin journalist working in Belfast during the

:21:05.:21:09.

Troubles who later wrote an article which made allegations of Gardai

:21:09.:21:14.

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

:21:14.:21:18.

Fianna Fail government ministers actively encouraged the formation

:21:18.:21:22.

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

:21:22.:21:26.

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

:21:26.:21:30.

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

:21:30.:21:33.

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

:21:33.:21:37.

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

:21:37.:21:43.

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

:21:43.:21:49.

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

:21:49.:21:54.

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

:21:54.:21:57.

Brian Feeney argues the plot by some Irish government ministers to

:21:57.:22:01.

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

:22:01.:22:04.

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

:22:04.:22:09.

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

:22:09.:22:13.

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

:22:13.:22:19.

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

:22:19.:22:25.

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

:22:25.:22:30.

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

:22:30.:22:33.

familiar unionist myth that the Irish State was very worried about

:22:33.:22:37.

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

:22:37.:22:41.

destabilising the Irish State. Historically, it was extradition

:22:41.:22:45.

which was the major source of contention between the British and

:22:45.:22:54.

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

:22:54.:23:00.

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

:23:00.:23:07.

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

:23:07.:23:13.

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

:23:13.:23:18.

extradition to the North to face terrorist charges by saying

:23:18.:23:21.

political motivation. extradition laws were difficult. In

:23:21.:23:26.

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

:23:26.:23:29.

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

:23:29.:23:39.
:23:39.:23:41.

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

:23:41.:23:48.

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

:23:48.:23:56.

extradited because of danger of injury. Evelyn Glenholmes ended not

:23:56.:24:01.

in extradition but in farce. Figures reveal that 113 extradition

:24:01.:24:05.

requests for terrorist related offences made to the republic

:24:05.:24:11.

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

:24:12.:24:15.

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

:24:16.:24:25.

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

:24:25.:24:30.

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

:24:30.:24:36.

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

:24:36.:24:41.

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

:24:41.:24:45.

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

:24:45.:24:54.

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

:24:54.:25:04.
:25:04.:25:05.

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

:25:05.:25:08.

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

:25:08.:25:15.

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

:25:15.:25:19.

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

:25:19.:25:22.

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

:25:22.:25:27.

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

:25:27.:25:30.

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

:25:30.:25:35.

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

:25:35.:25:39.

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

:25:40.:25:43.

holding talks with the Stormont political parties in an effort to

:25:43.:25:46.

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

:25:46.:25:50.

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

:25:51.:25:55.

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

:25:55.:26:00.

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

:26:00.:26:08.

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

:26:08.:26:18.
:26:18.:26:25.

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

:26:25.:26:28.

London, Europe and Washington. response from the Irish government

:26:29.:26:35.

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

:26:35.:26:38.

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

:26:38.:26:43.

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

:26:43.:26:47.

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

:26:47.:26:53.

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

:26:53.:26:58.

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

:26:58.:27:03.

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

:27:03.:27:08.

South Ministerial Council meeting in Armagh. I presented Enda Kenny

:27:08.:27:15.

with a dossier detailing the murders of 159 members of the

:27:15.:27:21.

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

:27:21.:27:25.

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

:27:25.:27:30.

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

:27:30.:27:35.

Taoiseach and the Tanaiste and the Foreign Minister to talk about

:27:35.:27:38.

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

:27:38.:27:44.

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

:27:44.:27:51.

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

:27:51.:27:56.

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

:27:56.:27:58.

republicans seek apologies from the British government what they are

:27:58.:28:04.

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

:28:04.:28:09.

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

:28:09.:28:13.

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

:28:13.:28:18.

force that destabilised Northern Ireland which was a great wee place

:28:18.:28:24.

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

:28:24.:28:29.

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

:28:30.:28:34.

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

:28:34.:28:41.

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

:28:41.:28:49.

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

:28:49.:28:54.

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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