Judgment reserved over Corrigan costs at Smithwick Tribunal

Monday 27 January 2014 19.43
Owen Corrigan was one of three former gardaí investigated by the tribunal
Owen Corrigan was one of three former gardaí investigated by the tribunal

Judge Peter Smithwick has rejected the suggestion that he already has his mind made up not to award a former Det Garda Sergeant his entire costs after failing to co-operate fully with the Smithwick Tribunal.

The Judge made his comment today at a special hearing convened to hear arguments over whether Owen Corrigan should receive all, some or none of his legal costs relating to the Tribunal which was established to determine if there was garda collusion with the IRA in the murder of two senior RUC officers.

Chief Supt. Harry Breen and Supt. Bob Buchanan died just minutes after leaving a meeting in Dundalk Garda Station in March 1989.

Judge Smithwick concluded, on the balance of probabilities, that there was collusion from some unnamed garda with the IRA which led to the murders.

The Tribunal ruled that Mr Corrigan did have inappropriate contact with members of the IRA and that his evidence was vague, evasive, inconsistent and not credible.

However, the Judge also said that the weight of the evidence did not support any allegation that Mr. Corrigan had colluded with the IRA in the RUC officers deaths.

Today, Counsel for the Tribunal, Justin Dillion, outlined correspondence between the Tribunal and Mr. Corrigan's legal team.

The Tribunal had said that the former detective garda had failed to co-operate fully with the Tribunal and that, coupled with the findings and other issues, meant it would not be equitable for the taxpayer to bear the costs of Mr. Corrigan.

He acknowledged that the failure to co-operate related to the provision of bank records and that while it was a matter for the Judge to decide, any ruling to withhold some or all of Mr. Corrigan's legal bill should be proportionate.

Counsel for Mr. Corrigan, Jim O'Callaghan, pointed out that everyone else had been awarded their costs, even those who had failed to provide a statement to the Tribunal. He said it seemed to him that a decision had already been made.

The Tribunal, he said, didn't like the attitude of Mr Corrigan but that was no reason not to award him his costs. Such a decision would be unlawful, discriminatory and legally unsustainable.

Mr O'Callaghan said they would go to the High Court if his client was not awarded his costs.

Judge Smithwick said he had not made any decision on the issue of costs. He reserved his decision regarding costs for Mr. Corrigan and give his decision as soon as possible.