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Friday 18 April 2014

Adams rejects RUC pair deaths claim

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has said it is nonsense to suggest he blamed two of the most senior RUC officers killed by the IRA for their own deaths.

The republican leader said those who attack him are at odds with the Smithwick report, which raised concerns about the security arrangements in place for Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan.

Politicians on all sides in Dublin and Belfast reacted in disbelief after Mr Adams yesterday said the men effectively drove themselves to their own death.

Mr Adams claimed his comments reflect what was recorded by Judge Peter Smithwick at the end of an eight-year investigation.

"So those who attack me are at odds with what is contained in the Smithwick report," he said.

"It is nonsense to suggest that I was blaming the two RUC officers for their own deaths.

"Everyone knows the IRA was responsible. That was never in question."

The tribunal found an unidentified IRA mole in the Garda station in Dundalk tipped off a terrorist hit squad that the men were attending a meeting in the town on the day of the murders, March 20 1989.

Mr Adams said the Smithwick report also recorded concerns about the security arrangements for RUC officers travelling to Dundalk through South Armagh.

"These include the fact that information about possible IRA attacks on RUC officers crossing the border was passed to Garda Headquarters and passed by it to the RUC," he said.

"It is a fact that RUC officer Bob Buchanan was crossing the border on average 10 times each month and on most occasions he travelled in his own car which was 'readily identifiable'."

Mr Adams said he is conscious that at the heart of this issue are two bereaved families.

"I did not need reminded of this by any of my political opponents and I am concerned, as I was during the Newstalk interview, not to say anything which detracts from that or which causes any further hurt," he said.

"That was never my intention."

Mr Adams yesterday claimed the RUC men thought they were immune from attack and had "a laissez-faire disregard for their own security".

Justice Minister Alan Shatter branded the comments as nauseating, Theresa Villiers, Northern Ireland Secretary of State, said Mr Adams had been deeply insulting and offensive, while unionist politicians said Mr Adams's remarks called into question his judgment.

Mr Adams said the judge outlined several examples of concern about the visits across the border by the RUC officers.

"Clearly, the decision to continue to travel as frequently as they did across the border, without escort, left the RUC officers open to the real possibility of attack," he continued.

"None of this distracts from the tragedy and loss of life."

The report on the Smithwick tribunal revealed a damning expose of collusion, bad policing and misguided loyalty in the Garda.

It stated a Provo mole leaked information that the officers were in Dundalk station for a meeting on the day of their murder, although the source of the collusion has not been identified.

It is suspected there were two people in the station working for the IRA.

Mr Adams said Sinn Fein supported the establishment of the Smithwick inquiry and that he personally co-operated with the inquiry and met Justice Smithwick and his team on a number of times.

"I have concerns about the tribunal's conclusions given that it accepts that it found no direct evidence of collusion and then went on to claim without supporting evidence that 'on the balance of probabilities' there was collusion," he added.

"Sinn Fein supports the recommendations the tribunal makes with regard to changes in policing and developing full all Ireland co-operation on policing and justice.

"There is also a need to deal with the outstanding issues of Weston Park.

"The Finucane family are entitled to the same support and levels of disclosure as the Breen and Buchanan families."

Press Association

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