Northern Ireland

John McBurney calls for border killings to be re-investigated

John McBurney Image copyright Ciaran McCauley
Image caption John McBurney represented the family of Ch Supt Harry Breen at the Smithwick Tribunal

The solicitor for the family of a policeman murdered by the IRA has called on the Irish government to re-examine claims of IRA and Garda collusion in a series of border area killings.

John McBurney said an independent panel should look into a number of incidents that led to a dozen deaths.

Mr McBurney represented the Breen family at the Smithwick Tribunal.

Ch Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan were shot dead in March 1989.

They were killed in an IRA ambush in south Armagh, as they crossed the border into Northern Ireland after a meeting in Dundalk police station.


The Smithwick Inquiry was set up by the Irish government in 2005 to investigate claims that officers based in Dundalk station had assisted the IRA gang who ambushed the two officers on 20 March 1989.

It found there was Irish police collusion in the murders.

Mr McBurney made his comments during a BBC NI Spotlight investigation on Tuesday.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan were returning from Dundalk Garda Station when they were shot dead

He said that some of the findings made by Judge Smithwick led him to believe that a number of cases should be re-examined.

He said: "It makes you think that when Judge Smithwick finds that in March 1989, a guard or guards provided the information to the same terrorist grouping that in 1988 was providing information which led to the murder by mistake of the Hanna family.

"Who was providing information which led to the murder of Lord Justice and Lady Gibson; who perhaps was assisting in the disposal in forensics in the murder of Terence McKeever; who assisted with knowledge about the movement of the Brinks Mat van on that fateful day in 1985.

"All of those events could quite easily have been contaminated by information from a guard or guards.

"That leaves you asking the question, do we not need to probe each and every one of those incidents in an organised and structured way, in order to identify precisely who the colluder or colluders were.

"People have lost so much over these years. That's what they are longing for, those details and that acknowledgement."

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