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Friday 23 February 2018

Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt denies Garda tip-off before search

Sarah Stack

Sarah Stack

A REAL IRA leader has denied he ever had a tip-off from a Garda before his property was searched.

Michael McKevitt told the Smithwick Tribunal into alleged Garda-IRA collusion in Ireland he did not get a telephone call warning him to get rid of a package, believed to be a forged passport, more than 20 years ago.

The dissident republican chief, who is serving a sentence for directing terrorism and IRA membership, was also later found liable for the Omagh bombing in a civil court.

McKevitt maintained he was not told his home would be search on January 27, 1990.

"I never got any phone call like that from anyone," he said.

The tribunal in Dublin previously heard a phone tap on a prominent republican's house had picked up a voice telling him to get rid of a package.

The inquiry 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.

In an unprecedented move, Judge Peter Smithwick heard McKevitt's evidence amid tight security at Dublin's Special Criminal Court after he was brought from Portlaoise Prison.

Dressed in a grey suit and shirt, the convicted IRA leader took the stand for about 10 minutes where he repeatedly rejected claims he ever had a "friendly contact" or "friendly garda" in the Irish police force.

"No, never," he said.

Tribunal barrister Mary Laverty SC asked: "If you had would you be telling me?"

"I'd probably have to, I'm here under oath," he replied.

McKevitt told Judge Smithwick there was never any false passport and that he could not recall officers searching for it between 7am and 8am on the winter morning as it was more than 20 years ago.

"I can't remember any specific search of the house," he said.

"It was searched a number of times over the years and it was always in the morning.

"Nobody ever told me about a passport and nobody ever tipped me off.

"Definitely not."

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