Smithwick Tribunal: Former Taoiseach decreed Narrow Water killings were “political crime”

Declan McAteer Posted by
declan@newrytimes.com
Tuesday, March 13th, 2012
News

18 British Army soldiers died at Narrow Water in 1979

The Smithwick Tribunal has today heard how a former Taoiseach referred to the Narrow Water bombings as a “political crime”. The incident at Narrow Water in 1979 was the single biggest loss of life for the British Army during the Northern Ireland troubles, as 18 soldiers were killed in two explosions.

A former deputy assistant chief constable of the RUC, known as Witness 68, made the claims to the tribunal in Dublin today. The Witness, who lead the Narrow Water investigation, said that he had an “acrimonious” meeting with senior Garda officials at Dublin Castle in 1980, with an Assistant Garda Commissioner McLaughlin in attendance.

The witness said, “Mr McLaughlin said that the Taoiseach, from the outset of the enquiry decreed that the killings were a political crime and no assistance would be given to the RUC.”

The witness continued by stating that Garda co-operation was “non-existent”, and that a detonation site in County Lough had been tampered with. Newry Times reported last month that another witness, Witness 69, also made these claims.

Witness 68 then claimed that another meeting with Garda officials took place in Dublin, and that they were told no further information would be released about the massacre and not to come back. These claims lead to arguing amongst legal teams present, which lead Barrister Nuala Butler to say, “Given the sensitivity of the matter, it is not appropriate for the tribunal to hear the evidence, and it is not related to the matters within the tribunal’s terms of reference, it is of no public interest.”

Judge Smithwick responded by saying the evidence should not be “smothered” on the grounds of it’s sensitivity and “for better or worse should be given.”

The witness also made claims today that had the two men arrested close to the scene after the incident been detained, dozens of lives may have been saved, “They were only charged with motoring offences. Why were they not prosecuted under the explosives act? They walked away without any charges at all. Those two men killed at least a dozen more people along the border area. If Mr Corrigan did what he was expected those lives could have been saved.”

The tribunal continues.

Related Articles:
Smithwick Tribunal hears how Narrow Water bomb evidence was “interfered with”
Smithwick Tribunal: ‘Up to 70 people may have been involved in RUC murders’
Newry British agent gives evidence to Smithwick Tribunal


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