27/05/2011

Dáil Warned Not To Cut RUC Murder Probe

The DUP Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson has added his voice to those criticising apparent attempts by the Irish Government to 'cut short' an inquiry into alleged Gardaí involvement in a double IRA murder of senior police officers.

"The haste with which the Irish Government is trying to wrap up the inquiry in to possible Gardaí collusion in the deaths of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Robert Buchanan has caused alarm.

"The Smithwick Tribunal was established to get answers about these important questions: it should be allowed to run its full course and should not be interfered with.

"Had the United Kingdom Government, intervened to order The Saville Inquiry to wrap up early or set deadlines for completion, the Irish Government would have raised its concerns," he said.

Harry Breen and Robert Buchanan were the two most senior RUC officers murdered by the Provisional IRA.

Mr Donaldson said: "It is important that we establish whether or not elements of the Gardaí, sympathetic to the IRA, assisted their murderers to carry out this evil act.

"The Government of the Irish Republic committed to the establishment of this tribunal, no-one is asking for additional tribunals or extra expenditure, simply that the Irish should remain committed to the tribunal they set up," he said, this week.

"I would urge the Irish Government to desist from interfering with the tribunal and allow it to finish its work in an orderly and methodical fashion," said the DUP MP.
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Chief Superintendent Harry Breen was killed along with his colleague Superintendent Robert Buchanan in an IRA ambush in 1989.

The Smithwick Tribunal, set up in 2005, to investigate the deaths has been asked by the Dáil to report by June, but the Breen family's solicitor said imposing a time limit was not right.

Solicitor John McBurney said any attempt "to curtail, confine, restrict and influence the workings of this tribunal, cannot be right".

He said that the Mahon Tribunal into planning matters "where no one was brutally murdered, had to my knowledge, no time limit and had been dealing with planning matters in the Republic, for longer".

But, Irish Justice Minister Alan Shatter denied that the government was interfering in the tribunal's work.

"There's a motion that the cabinet has agreed be brought before the Dáil," he said.

"It's a motion asking that a report be made by the tribunal to the Dáil as to where it now stands with the work done.

"The motion secondly envisages asking the tribunal to complete its work by 30 November," but then he also said the November deadline was "not set in stone".

"I think it is very important to the families of the two deceased members of the RUC, to everyone who is aware of the tragic background to what occurred, that clarity be brought to where matters now stand."

The Smithwick Tribunal has held some plenary hearings and will make a public statement when it sits again on 7 June and oral hearings are due to begin a few days later.

(BMcC/GK)

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