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Gardai had Prior Knowledge of Omagh - Labour

3.01.2006

Browsing through some of the Party press releases online, I came across an interesting piece from yesterday by Joe Costello. (I looked through yesterday's transcripts and it seems that it was Pat Rabbitte who brought it up in Leaders Questions'.)

"Today in the Dáil I questioned the Taoiseach about fresh claims that an informant, relocated by Gardaí under the witness protection programme, had given his handlers prior information relevant to the Real IRA’s plan to bomb Omagh."
It seems that the PSNI representatives, "on Wednesday the 22nd last, the outgoing Assistant Chief Constable of the PSNI, Sam Kinkaid, accompanied by his successor and by Superintendent Baxter who has led the Omagh bomb inquiry, made clear to the Omagh families their view that both MI5 and the Garda Síochána had had relevant information which was not passed on to their service and which, taken together, would have placed them on a much higher state of alert."

The information is said to have come from a Donegal car theif, Paddy Dixon, who was stealing cars for the Real IRA operation. His Garda handler voiced the allegations on the bombing and a body was set up to inquire into the affair. The inquiry report was never published nor publicised but was seen by Enda Kenny and Joe Costello
[from Costello]
I said I was struck by the consistent and apparently congenital inability of that committee to query the official Garda version of events in any case where it differed from that of Detective Sergeant White, whereas every hole was picked in the case put forward against the Garda authorities.
While the press release is not clear enough for simply old me to understand, it seems the inquiry was looking at the process of getting the information that was in the posession of Dixon's handler, Detective Sergeant White, to the top of the tree and on to the North. It is clear that this didn't happen and the PSNI seem to blame the gardai for this. If I am wrong about the nature of the report, I am open to correction but it seems to be the thrust of the release that this is what is was about Gardai cooperation and intelligence gathering with regard to Omagh and the PSNI.
[again Costello]
The present position is that the PSNI has made conclusions in its inquiry that run directly counter to the Nally report and its findings.
Clearly there exists a number of serious questions around the intelligence in the run-up to the atrocity north of the border
It is surprising enough that the Nally committee was able to reach the findings it did without interviewing Paddy Dixon, the Garda informant at the heart of this affair. It is even more disturbing that the PSNI felt the need to make it clear again last week that they still wish to interview that man.
...
The Nally report has not put an end to it. The police services of two neighbouring jurisdictions, which ought to have the closest co-operation, are now at loggerheads on the matter.


Costello has a point that all sides of the border and the Irish sea made an unqualified commitment to ensuring the highest possible standard of justice for the families of Omagh. The allegations he makes are serious, the report as it stands looks remarkably like some form of one-sided work intent of covering tracks as much as uncovering truth.

If this is so, and it is important to stress the unpublished state of the Nally Report, then it is clear that a further and more open approach must be taken as a debt of honour both to the Omagh victims and to our own process of justice. In a Republic the role of law must be above reproach to continue with the legitimate rule of law.

Bertie's responses in the Leaders Questions of yesterday are at the bottom of this page and the following page:

The Taoiseach: ...However, it has been the view all the way through that any information given to the Garda by the security forces was acted on long before the explosions. I cannot be certain of the facts but the relevant security information was acted on long before 15 August 1998. The bomb that was in preparation at that time was intercepted. I do not say the Deputy is talking about a different issue but the information was passed to the Garda by MI5. The information was acted on and the bomb that was in preparation was intercepted. It has been my understanding that the PSNI and the chief constable do not believe the account given by Sergeant White
...
To be clear on the matter, if Sam Kincaid was talking about the information that was given to the Garda by MI5 - I cannot be certain that is what he was talking about - that information was acted on and the bomb that was in preparation was intercepted and dealt with.
...
It appears there are two issues. The Deputy says that Sam Kincaid said his sources did not give him information and my information has always been that the information we got was acted on. I do not believe there was any other information. That was my understanding.
There does indeed to be two issues, anyone who reads the transcripts gets the impression of two men at cross-purposes. Sam Kinkaid's allegation as reprinted is that the Gardai had information, seemingly different to that in mind by Bertie Ahern, which was not passed on and would have contributed significantly to dealing with the Omagh Bomb.

While there is a great deal of fog at this point, the allegations by the PSNI and Labour are serious enough to merit further clarification on the events and certainly if there is a case to be answered after that a full inquiry.

Bertie's reply was not sufficient considering the scale of the allegation, he wasn't informed of the question before hand so at this point he must get the benefit of the doubt that he was genuinely confused. However, I would like to see some clarification of the position of both Kinkaid and the Government on what was known and whether it was passed on. It is implied that Dixon's intelligence is linked to the successful attack not the one which Ahern says was foiled on the intelligence of the Gardai.

The two were at cross purposes yesterday but cannot afford to remain so, for the credibility of our force and also the justice that the Omagh families deserve.

This allegation about the Gardai follows reports last week in the Sunday Times of the MI5 deficiencies and coverage by the SDLP and Slugger. So far its the first explicit attempt to enquire into the exact Garda role in this.

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