Monday 19 March 2018

Son rejects lax security claims

Murdered RUC officer Superintendent Bob Buchanan.
Murdered RUC officer Superintendent Bob Buchanan.

The son of a senior RUC officer shot dead by the IRA on the border almost 25 years ago has hit back at claims his father did not take his personal security seriously.

Superintendent Bob Buchanan and his colleague Chief Superintendent Harry Breen were ambushed in south Armagh on their way back from a meeting with gardai in Dundalk, Co Louth, on March 20, 1989.

A report following a marathon tribunal of investigation in to the murders is due to be published before Christmas.

As Judge Peter Smithwick prepared to hand over his findings, Mr Buchanan's son William insisted his father was always vigilant.

Mr Buchanan said his father never spoke about his job, but regularly checked cars and around the house and never took the same road home.

"It goes against what we are hearing in the tribunal, he always went one way and came back another," he said today in Belfast.

"So when I heard what I heard at the tribunal it goes against what my experience of my father was over the years, to the point that I do that (take different routes)," he added.

Former IRA members have alleged there was no garda involvement in the murders, adding the officers were creatures of habit using the same car and routes on known days, while gardai maintained the men refused escorts to and from the border.

Mr Buchanan said he was never aware how often his father travelled south to meet gardai until the start of the eight-year hearing, which he described as a roller coaster of emotions.

But he said evidence the senior RUC officers were lax on security were the hardest to listen to when he knew they probably were not fact.

Judge Smithwick is expected to hand his final report over to the clerk of the Dail at the end of the month. It will be examined by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) before its release.

Mr Buchanan said he does not recall his family, including late mother Catherine and sister Heather, putting a lot of thought into allegations of collusion.

"Yes the suggestion was right there more or less immediately, dispelled, and raised themselves again," he said.

"But I don't think as a family we dwelled on the collusion aspect.

"We were really just trying to get our lives back together."

The 50-year-old father-of-three revealed the families were never asked by politicians or the British Government if they wanted the men's murders investigated under the Weston Park talks.

He admitted they initially felt they were being used by the political process.

"There was lobbying on both side looking for various public inquiries in to certain events, which are well documented," he continued.

"We didn't ask for that.

"Perhaps the view was yeah, it's a political arena, a political agenda.

"But we moved on. We accepted it. We're now further down the line.

"We certainly we didn't go out and lobby but we accepted it once it for to the point that it was going to happen. That was the two governments that decided that."

Mr Buchanan said the family opted to embrace the tribunal and work with it, but faced frustrations over delays and not being able to compel witnesses from Northern Ireland to attend or evidence handed over.

He said it has been a difficult process, but the family will know in a matter of weeks if the last eight years have been lost.

"I think as a family having gone through this process we have to rely on Judge Smithwick and his team," he added.

"Whilst there were frustrations in the private investigations side of it, six years, it was knocked back time and time again, my understanding is they went in to every area, they were diligent in how they were investigating and hopefully that bears through."

Press Association

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