independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Former officer denies he had any involvement with IRA

Former garda sergeant Finbarr Hickey at his home

ONE of the gardai who appeared in front of the Smithwick Tribunal has rejected its findings.

The tribunal concluded that certain unnamed gardai had helped the IRA in the murder of the RUC's Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan.

It found that former sergeant Leo Colton, in the course of 1995 and 1996, assisted the Provisional IRA by having a former colleague sign false passport applications.

However, the judge said that the evidence did not establish that he colluded with the Provisional IRA in the murders of the two officers.

But yesterday Mr Colton denied that he had any involvement with the IRA.

"While he respects the integrity of the chairman of the tribunal he denies any involvement with the IRA in the past or present or indeed with any other subversive group," a spokesman told the Irish Independent.

Former sergeant Finbarr Hickey was found not to be at the station before the murders nor was he an IRA sympathiser.

He was involved in assisting the IRA with procuring false passports, but not deliberately.

"I welcome the conclusion of the Smithwick Tribunal," Mr Hickey said, adding that the process had been "immensely stressful" on him and his family.

"I am pleased that the tribunal has accepted my evidence that I had no hand, act or part in any collusion," he said.

He hoped his privacy would be respected and that equal prominence would be given to the findings which absolved him of any wrongdoing.

"I have nothing to add to that statement," he told the Irish Independent.

Former detective inspector Owen Corrigan was found by Judge Smithwick to have had a series of inappropriate dealings with the Provisional IRA.

But he was not satisfied that that evidence was of sufficient substance and weight to establish that Mr Corrigan did collude in the fatal shootings of Chief Supt Breen and Supt Buchanan.

Mr Corrigan could not be contacted yesterday. Residents living near his bar, Corrigan's, in Drogheda, Co Louth, said that it had been closed for up to a year.

Irish Independent

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