A confidential Garda memo on the movements of an important foreign diplomat is in the hands of the IRA.

A senior foreign diplomat in a highly sensitive post spent a few days recently in a rural area of Ireland. There is little noteworthy of this in the normal course of events. However, according to the Gardaí, the diplomat is in the high risk category and the Provisional IRA obtained a copy of a confidential internal Garda memo detailing the diplomat's movements more than 24 hours before the visit took place.

'Today Tonight' informed the Gardaí that it was aware of this memo and that it was in the hands of the Provisional IRA. The Garda authority sent the following statement to Today Tonight.

We note that you propose to make a programme about the transmission of an official Garda document to a person not authorised to possess it.

We wish to draw your attention to the provisions of the Official Secrets Act 1963, and no doubt you will bear them in mind in making your programme.

We urge that no information be revealed which would identify particular individuals or locations and might place the safety of those individuals or property at risk.

The statement went on to say that the Gardaí are conducting a full investigation as a matter of urgency and seeks the cooperation of RTÉ.

The story was broken by RTÉ reporter Tommie Gorman who provides a background to the story but is limited about what he can reveal concerning the details of the memo.

Security correspondent for The Irish Times Seán Flynn says that a Garda investigation is trying to ascertain if this was an orchestrated leak by a Garda mole or if it was simply a case of the document being mislaid. He says that he has seen no evidence that the Provisional IRA is actually in possession of the document. However, he says that their motivation in publicising that they had the document in their possession is to undermine the credibility of the Garda authorities.

A leak of this nature will of course undermine the Garda security.

Tommie Gorman says the memo had been available to MI5 and he is certain that the Provisional IRA had the memo in their possession.

Seán Flynn says that the whole episode is very embarrassing for the Gardaí and politically embarrassing from a security perspective. He envisages that the Garda investigation will result in disciplinary action and says that heads will roll.

Tommie Gorman adds that,

It is extremely sinister that the Provisional IRA can get hold of any internal Garda document.

This episode of 'Today Tonight' was broadcast on 13 August 1987. The programme is presented by John Bowman.