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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 December, 2003, 17:33 GMT
Dublin announces killings inquiry
Two senior RUC officers were shot after visit to Irish Republic

The Irish Government has announced a public inquiry into the IRA murders of two senior RUC officers in Northern Ireland 14 years ago.

The move had been recommended by retired Canadian judge Peter Cory.

His findings were revealed in a report given to the Irish Government which looked into allegations of collusion between rogue police officers and the IRA.

Judge Cory has compiled reports into eight killings on both sides of the Irish border.

He handed six reports over to the Irish and British governments nine weeks ago. On Thursday, the Irish Government published its reports.

The perpetrators of the Breen and Buchanan murders will now face a simple choice - do they expect others to co-operate fully with all of the Cory inquiries?
Michael McDowell

Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell said the specific terms of reference of the tribunal would be drafted in due course.

In what is seen as a challenge to republicans, he said the success or failure of the inquiry would largley depend on the degree of co-operation from potential witnesses.

"The perpetrators of the Breen and Buchanan murders will now face a simple choice.

"Do they expect others to co-operate fully with all of the Cory inquiries?

"If so, do they intend co-operating in like manner with the Breen and Buchanan inquiry?

"That is the issue for the so-called republican movement to answer clearly."

The British Government has reports into four controversial murders in Northern Ireland but will not be publishing these before Christmas, because of what it calls legal and human rights matters.

Judge Peter Cory
Judge Cory has had unprecedented access to files

However, Judge Cory contacted the Secretary of State, Paul Murphy on Thursday and raised a number of concerns relating to the non-publication of his reports.

He said he believed that informing the families of his recommendations directly would be, at this stage, a breach of his terms of reference.

Judge Cory has recommended an inquiry into the murders of Superintendent Bob Buchanan and Chief Superintendent Harry Breen in 1989.

They were ambushed by IRA gunmen in a remote area of south Armagh, while driving an unmarked police car after a meeting with Garda officers in Dundalk, County Louth.

There have always been suspicions that a rogue police officer in the Republic of Ireland may have tipped off the IRA about their movements.

Thursday's report reveals that Judge Cory does not propose an inquiry into the murders of Lord Justice Maurice Gibson and his wife, Cecily, in 1987.

They were killed just inside Northern Ireland when a roadside bomb blew up their car on the main Belfast to Dublin road, as they returned from holiday.

Three years ago, a Garda investigation into both incidents found no evidence to support the allegations of collusion.

Human rights

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein and the SDLP have called on the British Government to publish its Cory findings into four murders.

These were the 1989 murder of solicitor Pat Finucane, the killing of Catholic man Robert Hamill in Portadown in 1997, the murder of Loyalist Volunteer Force leader Billy Wright in 1997 and the murder of Lurgan solicitor Rosemary Nelson in 1999.

Pat Finucane
Pat Finucane was a high profile Belfast solicitor

It is understood Judge Cory has recommended public inquiries into these killings.

Five human rights organisations - Amnesty International, British Irish Rights Watch, the Committee on the Administration of Justice, Human Rights Watch and the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights - have also called for the reports to be published.

On Thursday, a spokesperson said there was "no basis for any further delay in making the reports public" as the delay was causing distress to the families.

Pat Finucane's son Michael said: "My family feel extremely let down. We're on the receiving end of yet more bad faith and delay. The British Government needs to realise that this issue will not go away.

"It needs to publish the report now and immediately establish a public inquiry if recommended by the judge."

Judge Cory was appointed by London and Dublin following the Weston Park political negotiations in 2001.

BBC NI's Shane Harrison:
"Justice Minister Michael McDowell said the specific terms of reference of the tribunal would be drafted in due course"

BBC NI's Mary Campbell reports:
"Mr McDowell said the success or failure of any inquiry would depend on the co-operation of potential witnesses"

BBC NI's Maryann Maguire:
"The families of Bob Buchanan and Harry Breen do not want to comment on its contents and say it is a private affair"

Finucanes request murder report
01 Dec 03  |  Northern Ireland
Judge completes murder reviews
23 Sep 03  |  Northern Ireland
Unresolved deaths: A question of collusion?
02 Aug 01  |  Northern Ireland
Inquiry judge's Dublin move
26 Jun 03  |  Northern Ireland
Stevens 'gets to truth' on collusion
07 Nov 03  |  Northern Ireland

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