Smithwick Tribunal, British Agent, Kevin Fulton
A former British agent who infiltrated the Provisional IRA told the Smithwick Tribunal today his early duties included putting names to pictures of people who had been photographed from army watchtowers.
Kevin Fulton, whose disclosures alleging collusion between members of the Garda and the IRA were a significant factor in the establishment of the tribunal, also recounted his part in security services’ attempts to target IRA checkpoints.
Mr Fulton, who is also known as Peter Keeley, told Judge Peter Smithwick he had been supplied with a Triumph Dolomite car in order to drive around the south Armagh area where the IRA was known to stage checkpoints.
On arrival at an IRA checkpoint, he was to flick a switch in the car which would alert the security services to the fact that he had encountered the IRA. Once he had encountered the IRA checkpoint, the security services would then scramble “and do their thing”.
Mr Fulton said he could move with relative impunity as he was a Catholic from Newry and had been given papers to say he had been “kicked out of the army” for being unsuitable.
The tribunal is inquiring into suggestions of Garda collusion in the IRA murders of two RUC officers in south Armagh on March 20th, 1989.
Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan were ambushed and shot dead minutes after leaving a meeting in Dundalk Garda station. They were the most senior RUC men killed in the Troubles.
Mr Fulton said he had joined the British army after a stint in the merchant navy and had been approached by British intelligence services who would take him away from his unit for special training.
He said he was assigned a “babysitter” who accompanied him on a tour of duty in Berlin. When he returned to Northern Ireland, he was required to report weekly to his intelligence officers in Co Armagh.
In relation to the photographs, he said the British army had an observation post overlooking the unemployment office in Newry. Two officers would bring him photographs of those queuing for unemployment assistance, to where he was undergoing army training in Ballymena, and he would identify them.
He said he began to socialise with republicans around Newry and was later formally introduced to the IRA.
PSNI Murder Trial
The trial of two men accused of murdering a policeman in Co Armagh has been adjourned to next year after another defendant involved in the case tried to sack her legal team.
Former Sinn Féin councillor Brendan McConville (40) and John Paul Wootton (20), both from Co Armagh, deny murdering PSNI Constable Stephen Carroll in Craigavon in March 2009 and a series of other charges.
Mr Wootton’s mother, Sharon Wootton (39) is accused of perverting the course of justice in relation to the subsequent police investigation of the dissident republican shooting. She denies the charge.
The trial, which was due to open in Belfast Crown Court today, was postponed after Ms Wootton applied last night to change her solicitors, who are being funded by legal aid.
Judge Lord Justice Girvan, who said he would hear full submissions on the defendant’s application on Friday, set a new trial start date of January 9th next year.
He described the “11th hour” development as “entirely regrettable” and indicated that the application would not necessarily be granted and that Ms Wootton may ultimately have to represent herself.
Constable Carroll, 48, from Banbridge, was shot dead as he responded to a 999 call in the Linsmore Manor area of Craigavon.
The murder, which was claimed by the Continuity IRA, was committed two days after two British soldiers were shot dead by the Real IRA outside an Army barracks in Antrim.
Mr McConville, from Aldervale, Tullygally, and Mr Wootton and his mother, both from Collindale, Lurgan, stood in the dock during this morning’s proceedings.
Constable Carroll’s widow Kate sat yards away in the public gallery.
Constable Carroll, a grandfather with over 24 years’ service with the police, was the first officer to be murdered since the changeover from the RUC to the PSNI.
His shooting, as he was responding to a 999 call near the end of his 12-hour shift, came just two days after dissident republicans murdered two soldiers outside Massareene barracks in Antrim as they took delivery of food from two pizza men.