Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan murdered in 1989 by the IRA

Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan murdered in 1989 by the IRA

A SENIOR Garda detective has strongly criticised the PSNI for its handling of intelligence claiming the IRA got a lot of information from gardaí.

Det Chief Supt Peter Kirwan, the head of the garda security and intelligence section, voiced his criticism at the Smithwick Tribunal on Tuesday.

He was responding to evidence given by Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris, the head of the PSNI’s Crime Operations Department.

ACC Harris said the PSNI had current intelligence alleging a senior member of the IRA had several gardaí who passed information to him, including a senior officer.

It was also claimed that the IRA got “good intelligence” from Dundalk Garda Station and that a member of the force passed information to the IRA that allowed them to kill Lord and Lady Gibson in a car bomb in 1987.

The Smithwick Tribunal is investigating claims that a garda in Dundalk passed information to the IRA, which led to the ambush of RUC Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan in March 1989.

On Tuesday afternoon, solicitors for the families of the RUC men expressed serious concern afternoon about what they had heard.

John McBurney and Ernie Waterworth said it was very regrettable to hear a senior garda say the intelligence had not been properly shared.

“Clearly this needs very urgent attention to allow the Garda Commissioner to fully investigate the PSNI intelligence,” they said.

Det Chief Supt Kirwan said gardaí had been given the intelligence in a very brief summary – the same summary was presented to the tribunal to be made public.

He said gardaí had not been given access to more detailed information about it.

Det Chief Supt Kirwan stated they had not been given “even half a chance” to interpret what the intelligence actually means.

He had written to the PSNI about the matter and another letter was then written “at a more senior level”, but did not say if they got a response.

Counsel for the tribunal Mary Laverty also pointed out that the tribunal was told by the PSNI they would not be getting access to the background intelligence documents because it was too sensitive.

Earlier, the garda chief said he held ACC Harris as a professional officer of the highest standard.

He also spoke about the close cooperation that normally exists between the PSNI, British security forces and gardaí.


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