CONCLUSIONS from the Smithwick Tribunal and a lack of evidence to verify new MI5 assertions of a mole has damaged decades of policing in Dundalk, according to a Garda source.
Following on from the tribunal, which highlighted collusion by one or more Gardai in the murders of Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan, it has been suggested that MI5 had intelligence that could finger a ‘mole’ in the ranks of the force.
It is understood the intelligence was collected by agents from MI5 during an operation along the border.
The intelligence was described as “live and of the moment” but was dismissed by a senior counsel for Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan as “nonsense on stilts”.
It has also been asserted that a lack of access to the intelligence is hampering Garda attempts to find the alleged mole.
But a Garda source says the continuing fallout from the tribunal has seriously damaged the reputation of policing in an area where many Gardai have been awarded the Scott Medal for valour in respect to cross border policing.
It is believe Gardai are now anxious to uncover the identity of the person or persons blamed by the tribunal for a leak of information leading to the deaths of the two officers.
Gardai are examining their position on whether they can seek access to that intelligence to allow their ‘mole hunt’ to make progress.
The Garda position was spelled out on the last day of the hearing by Counsel Diarmaid McGuinness.
He pointed out that PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris had told the tribunal there was no RUC intelligence at the time of the murders that suggested collusion by any member of the gardai in the ambush.
The Smithwick Inquiry found that Gardai colluded with the IRA in the murders of two senior RUC officers, Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan.
The officers were ambushed and shot in south Armagh in 1989 after a meeting with Gardai in Dundalk.
However, Judge Smithwick did not point the finger of blame at any individual Garda officers in relation to the murders.