The Observer

'Garda knew of IRA mole in force'

Henry McDonald, Ireland Editor
Sunday November 14, 2004
The Observer

Police on both sides of the border knew an IRA mole was operating inside the Garda before he set up two senior RUC officers for assassination.

The agent is accused of setting up Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan, who were shot dead on the South Armagh/Louth border on 20 March 1989. Breen was the most senior RUC officer to be killed in the Troubles.

The double murder is the subject of one of several inquiries headed by Canadian judge Peter Cory, who is also investigating the killing of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane. His report concluded that at least one officer was on the IRA's payroll.

Now fresh evidence has emerged over how the IRA mole in the Garda was an open secret among police officers well before the Breen and Buchanan murders. One of their colleagues has come forward to reveal that RUC and Garda officers were well aware of an IRA agent operating inside the latter police force in North Louth for several years.

The officer has not provided this testimony to Cory though the judge has reported that Breen and Buchanan's colleague, Sgt Alan Mains, told him the name of the mole.

In a film for Ulster Television's Insight , the officer, known in the programme only as 'Robert', talks about the open secret. He recounts how there were fears for the security of RUC personnel if they crossed the border for meetings with their Garda counterparts in Dundalk.

'We were told quite clearly that there were certain people we couldn't tell we were coming down,' he says. 'Quite clearly the risk was in Dundalk Garda station and there was a certain individual we were not to inform we were coming down, although on occasion he did find out because inevitably he would have been at the some of the meetings that I was at.'

Robert describes the IRA assassination of Breen and Buchanan as a 'very clean ambush and it was highly unlikely that their [the officers'] patterns would have been such that they could have been picked up at random.'

When he heard about the murders, Robert adds: 'I think quite clearly it was my mind that this particular individual had tipped off the IRA about Harry Breen's movements and his colleague.

'It was common knowledge within the RUC in the South Down/South Armagh area and the Garda Siochana that there was a problem with an officer in Dundalk. It wasn't just restricted to the RUC. It was almost an open secret.'

The army agent known as Kevin Fulton, who infiltrated the IRA for the British security services, backs Robert's claims. Fulton has been interviewed by Cory and has provided the name of the IRA mole working inside the Garda. The Observer is aware of the name but cannot print it for legal reasons.

In the programme, Fulton says: 'On one occasion I was along with Patrick Joseph Blair, my commanding officer in the IRA, and we had to go out and meet a gardai who usually met another man from South Armagh who was in the Internal Security Team. But this person wasn't there that day, so at some stage I worked with the Internal Security Unit along with Patrick Joseph Blair. We went out to a pub along the border and the person we met was *******. The reason I knew him was I had been arrested.

'I was interrogated by him in Dundalk Garda station at one stage. We all knew about *****. It was basically the worst-kept secret within a certain group of IRA men, but to me there was nothing extraordinary about that.'

Patrick Joseph Blair, aka Mooch, has been named in parliament as one of the leaders of the Real IRA following the 1998 Omagh bomb atrocity.

Fulton claims that the murders of Breen and Buchanan on the main Dublin to Belfast road was a major coup for the IRA because the hit squad involved seized the officer's notebooks containing names of informers in code.

'A short time after that, the Provisional IRA issued a statement saying that all the volunteers and people giving information had an amnesty to hand themselves over. That they had acquired the officers' notebooks and files and had worked out who the informants were.'

Cory's report does not name the Garda officer at the centre of the controversy over the killings. The Breen/ Buchanan report is part of several inquiries the judge is holding. He has recommended public inquiries into the double murder as well as the assassination of Pat Finucane, where it is believed the security forces aided and abetted the solicitor's murderers.

· Cross Border Murder will be broadcast at 10.30pm on Thursday.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?