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Smithwick Tribunal: McGuinness denies involvement in IRA sanctioning of RUC officers murder

NORTHERN Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has denied any involvement in the IRA sanctioning an operation to abduct, torture and murder two of the most senior RUC officers killed in the Troubles.

The Sinn Fein chief rejected allegations made at the Smithwick tribunal in Dublin by a British intelligence officer Ian Hurst - also known as Martin Ingram - who claimed to have inside knowledge of the 1989 terrorist border ambush.

The inquiry into IRA-Garda collusion in the Irish Republic was told Mr McGuinness was in the IRA's northern command and "involved" when it sanctioned the killing of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan.

A spokesman for the Deputy First Minister said: "Martin McGuinness totally rejects these allegations."

In evidence to the inquiry in secret last week, Mr Hurst said up to 60 people would have been involved in the operation.

He said the intelligence came through a high level double agent in the IRA known as Stakeknife.

"Basically I mean cipher 82 (Stakeknife's handler) had information like it was authorised at northern command and Mr McGuinness was involved as OC," the inquiry was told.

But Mr McGuinness' spokesman said the tribunal has already questioned evidence it has heard from British intelligence.

"This individual who uses a variety of names including Martin Ingram has no credibility. By his own admission he is part of a British security apparatus which played a very negative and malign role in the conflict, including widespread involvement in collusion," the spokesman said.

"His submission to the Tribunal needs to be seen and judged in that context."

The tribunal is investigating allegations of Garda collusion over the IRA murders of the senior RUC officers on the Irish border in 1989, minutes after a Garda meeting in Dundalk in the Republic.

The intelligence officer was given permission by the Ministry of Defence to give evidence, but only behind closed doors with redacted transcripts then read into the record.

He worked for the British Army's Force Research Unit (FRU) in Northern Ireland for three years during his career as an Army intelligence officer.