Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Bandit Country

The El Paso Times blog has a piece about how a former Irish Army officer is now claiming that there were a number of IRA moles in the Garda units stationed in Dundalk and the border area while he was deployed in Aiken Barracks in Dundalk. He also claims that a Garda Superintendent in Dundalk told him that they had identified republican sympathisers within the Garda. These allegations are nothing new, of course, but (if true) he would be a new and credible witness at any future tribunal into alleged Garda-IRA collusion.

In 1989 senior RUC officers, Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan, were ambushed and murdered by the South Armagh IRA on the border as they were returning north from a meeting with their counterparts in the Dundalk Garda station. Many people believe that the provos were told the details of the meeting (i.e. times and routes the men would be travelling) by a particular Dundalk Guard, leading to their murder. There was a clamour for an inquiry from unionists, especially after inquiries into Bloody Sunday and the murder of catholic solicitor Pat Finucane, were set up.

The Gardai have always maintained that there were only two or three routes north the men could have taken, that they had not made much effort to avoid surveillance and could have been watched/followed the whole way south and back again. Guards, particularly those stationed near the border, tend to be virulently anti-Republican, which makes the conspiracy theory hard to believe. A friend of mine's father is a retired Special Branch sergeant and he scoffs at the notion that his colleague (name is well known, but...) would dare be an IRA mole within the Garda, but then maybe he would say that.

However a lot of the claims with regard to the killings have been made by a Kevin Fulton. Kevin Fulton is the pseudonym of a man (Peter Keeley, apparently) that has claimed to be a British agent that had infiltrated the IRA. In fact the forthcoming tribunal was established solely as a sop to unionists based on Fulton's claims, as all other claims can be dismissed as hearsay. Both Garda and Republican sources have attempted to dismiss the man as a common criminal not even trusted by the RUC, but who was still being steered by perfidious Albion.

This Irish Times reproduction of an RUC submission to the Northern Irish police Ombudsman (sub required) also details doubts that the RUC had as to Fulton's reliability. You see it is also Fulton that claims he warned the police in advance about the planned Omagh bombing, which claimed 29 lives (a claim both the Garda and PSNI deny). The RUC state that RUC Special Branch had cut ties with Fulton in 1994, four years before Omagh, and that he is, basically, a fantasist. Whatever the real truth, his testimony seemed to be the only real evidence against the Dundalk Gard in question, until now of course - if this soldier is credible.
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