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Ferris endorses calls for co-operation with tribunal of inquiry

23 March, 2005

Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris speaking during a debate in the Dáil to establish a tribunal of inquiry into the deaths of Chief Superintendent Breen and Superintendent Buchanan.

I endorse the request made by Deputy Ó Caoláin that everybody with relevant information ought to make himself or herself available to this tribunal. The tribunal should be allowed to examine the entire background to the allegations made, particularly in regard to the individual who claims to have persuaded Judge Cory to request that it be established.

Toby Harnden is one of the sources for the claims that there was collusion involving members of the Garda in the killing of Chief Superintendent Breen and Superintendent Buchanan.

He has already been castigated by Judge Peter Cory for failing to substantiate that claim. Cory said his interviews with both Harnden and Kevin Myers revealed how little these gentlemen relied on fact and how much on suspicion and hearsay.

Harnden has already been found to have made an unsubstantiated allegation that those killed in Bloody Sunday in Derry had been involved in violence that day. It would appear that Harnden distorted a statement given to him by one of the paratroopers involved in that event. Kevin Myers, who repeated the allegations made by Harnden, has already reacted in his usual manner, by attacking Cory, comparing him to Homer Simpson. There has been speculation that both Myers and Harnden will attempt to avoid giving evidence to the tribunal, further proof of the shallow nature of their claims.

At the centre of the allegation is a person named Peter Keely, who uses the name Kevin Fulton. Keely, who claimed to have been a British agent within the IRA, was discredited by Scotland Yard, which claimed his false information cost it £1.5 million in wasted police time. Another source is a person named Martin Ingram, otherwise known as Jack Graham. He claims to have worked for the Force Research Unit and was completely discredited when he appeared at the Saville tribunal. It is interesting that both he and the other person mentioned have similar claims and used each other to back up their scurrilous allegations. It would appear that the Garda Síochána has already formed an opinion as regards the reliability of their statements. The Garda also described one of them as an intelligent nuisance and a serial informer who is not to be trusted. Yet they are the people whose claims are to form the basis for the setting up of this tribunal.

We are therefore entitled to ask what really lies behind the tribunal. I do not doubt that Judge Cory was genuine in his belief that the claims made by the aforementioned warranted further investigation, but I contend that he was gravely misled by that individual. A closer examination of his purported evidence would have come to the same conclusion as investigations into other claims concerning Garda collusion in the killing of Justice Gibson. There must surely be a suspicion, therefore, that allegations made are part of an attempt by British agencies to divert attention from the ongoing investigations of their roles in events in this country.

This also comes at a time when a concerted and possibly successful attempt is being made to ensure that Peter Cory's investigations into those events will be sabotaged in the same manner as previous investigations into the involvement in violence by the British state. It would appear the Taoiseach shares this view as he has come out in support of Peter Cory, who has strongly criticised the Inquiries Bill, which is designed to thwart any meaningful inquiry into the death of Pat Finucane as well as into many other instances where the British state is suspected to have been involved in the killing of those it claims to be its citizens. It is surely convenient at this time, when the spotlight should be on the murky role of British intelligence, that this tribunal has been initiated on the basis of what are generally believed to be baseless allegations made by discredited journalists, who have relied on their own imaginations and the word of discredited informers. If one of the aforementioned informers turns out to be a genuine agent, why did he make the claims, and at whose behest?

Finally, I note the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy McDowell, in his remarks did not endorse the Taoiseach's support for Judge Cory's conclusions regarding the efforts to sabotage the Finucane and other inquiries. Neither did he refer to the refusal by the British authorities to co-operate in a meaningful way with the investigation into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

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