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Statement by the Tánaiste on the Smithwick Report

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, Northern Ireland Peace Process, Press Releases, Northern Ireland, 2013

 

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore, T.D., made the following statement in relation to the Smithwick Report: 

Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Robert Buchanan of the RUC were murdered by the IRA on 20 March 1989 as they returned home from a meeting in Dundalk Garda Station.  

For years we have sought to get to the truth about their deaths. 

Today we must acknowledge and confront the central grave finding of the Smithwick Tribunal Report that there was collusion with the IRA from within An Garda Síochána in the murders of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Robert Buchanan. 

Whilst Judge Smithwick does not find direct evidence of collusion in the killings, he concludes, on the balance of probabilities that collusion did occur involving an unidentified member, or members, of An Garda Síochána.

I am appalled and saddened by this finding; it is a matter of grave public concern.

On behalf of the Government and the people of Ireland, I apologise without reservation to the Breen and Buchanan families for any failings identified in the report on the part of the State or any of its agencies.

Judge Peter Cory, who also examined this case, described these men as two outstanding officers.  Their murder deprived June Breen and Catherine Buchanan of their husbands, and Gillian and George Breen and Heather and William Buchanan of devoted fathers.  

I know that members of An Garda Síochána will be shocked by these findings today.  The actions documented in this report are a betrayal of the values and the very ethos of an Garda Síochána, as the guardians of peace.  

Public scrutiny and transparency are essential to confidence in policing and in the rule of law.   Whilst the findings of the Report make for difficult reading, I welcome its publication and thank Judge Smithwick for the work he has done over eight years to ensure the transparency we require. 

 

ENDS 

Press Office

3 December 2013