Sunday 20 October 2019

Former British double agent denies mole ‘lies’

Sarah Stack

A FORMER British double agent who infiltrated the IRA has denied being a pathological liar over claims a suspected Garda mole was involved in one of the worst atrocities in the Troubles.

Peter Keeley told a tribunal into alleged Garda-IRA collusion that he heard a senior officer destroyed vital evidence after the 1979 Narrow Water bomb attack which killed 18 British soldiers.

The agent, who spied on the terror group from the 1980s, has claimed Dundalk-based Detective Garda Sergeant Owen Corrigan assisted the IRA on several occasions over the years.

"After the Narrow Water bombing it was said that Owen Corrigan helped the IRA that time," said Mr Keeley, who is also known as Kevin Fulton.

Mr Corrigan has strenuously denied the allegations of collusion, which he has called a monstrous lie.

The Smithwick Tribunal is investigating allegations of Garda collusion over the IRA murders of senior RUC officers Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan on the Irish border in 1989, minutes after a Garda meeting.

Mr Keeley, a Newry-born Catholic who joined the British Army, was giving evidence for a second day in Dublin behind a screen to protect his identity.

The 51-year-old again alleged Mr Corrigan had also been involved in tipping the IRA off that Mr Breen and Buchanan were in Dundalk and also cleaned fingerprints off a 1,000lb bomb found in Omeath and had told volunteers Co Louth farmer Tom Oliver was an informer.

Two months later, in July 1999, Mr Oliver was kidnapped and murdered.

Under cross examination, Mr Corrigan's barrister Jim O'Callaghan said he could prove Mr Keeley was a pathological liar.

He told tribunal his client had no involvement with the Narrow Water and Omeath bomb factory investigation, and that he was on sick leave when Mr Oliver was killed.

"Owen Corrigan went on certified sick leave on 4th December 1989, 20 months before Tom Oliver was murdered," said Mr O'Callaghan.

"After going on sick leave on 4th December 1989 he was totally unavailable to An Garda Siochana in 1990 and 1991 and retired from the forces on 4th February 1992.

"He had no access to any Garda information to say who or who was not an informer."

Mr O'Callaghan told Mr Keeley several former police officers - ex-members of the RUC/PSNI, of security forces and of An Garda Siochana - had questioned the agent's credibility, calling him a liar, fantasist and a Walter Mitty character.

"I have done things that I'm not proud of - things my handlers know I have done and I'm party to that," he replied.

"Maybe it's because if I go down the road, they're coming with me.

"Maybe it's good to discredit people who can do them harm."

Meanwhile Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, sitting at the High Court in Dublin, refused an application by a barrister for Freddie Scappaticci - who Mr Keeley claims was in the IRA's notorious internal security unit - to overturn Judge Smithwick's ruling to allow the witness to give evidence behind a screen.

Mr Keeley said he had told his handlers Mr Corrigan was an IRA mole, but he never thought it was astonishing information as he also knew of RUC officers giving information to units.

But under cross examination the former agent could not think of any specific incident where he heard of the detective assisting the terror group prior to the ambush of Mr Breen and Mr Buchanan on March 20, 1989.

Elsewhere, Mr Keeley admitted he was involved in one abduction of Mr Oliver after the tip-off from Mr Corrigan - but maintained the farmer was freed and that he was working in Disneyland Paris when he was murdered.

The witness continuously denied Mr O'Callaghan's allegations he was there for the last moments of Mr Oliver's life and drove him to his death, tied up in the back of his van like a chicken.

"When he was first abducted he was tied up like that," he replied.

Mr O'Callaghan maintained there was only one abduction of Mr Oliver and told Mr Keeley his version that he was working in Paris in July 1991 did not correspond with dates in his book Unsung Hero.

"You were part of the team of thugs who murdered Tom Oliver," said Mr O'Callaghan.

"No sir, I was not part of the team of thugs who murdered Tom Oliver, I was not present," said Mr Keeley.

Mr Keeley claimed that it was "a while after" the information about Mr Oliver was given to the IRA by Mr Corrigan that he told his handler about it.

"What use was that to Mr Oliver?" Mr O'Callaghan replied.

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