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A sign on the door at the Smithwick Tribunal in Dublin. Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Smithwick tribunal hears how killers shouted 'hurrah' after murdering two RUC officers

The tribunal is looking into claims of alleged garda collusion into the murder of two Royal Ulster Constabulary officers by the IRA in 1989.

THE GANG WHO killed two senior Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers 22 years ago are said to have cheered as they drove off in a van.

At the Smithwick Tribunal in Dublin yesterday, five eyewitnesses described how the IRA carried out the ambush near Jonesborough in south Armagh on 20 March 1989.

The inquiry is investigating alleged collusion by members of the gardaí and the IRA into the killings of chief superintendent Harry Breen and superintendent Bob Buchanan who were shot dead not long after meeting with members of the gardaí in Dundalk.

The Irish Times reports that one witness was stopped at a roadblock and forced to lie on the ground as five people got out of a van and opened fire on the two RUC officers.

The witness said how the men then drove off in the van letting out a big roar that sounded like they were saying: “Hurrah”.

The tribunal heard earlier how a former RUC information collator contradicted evidence given by a one-time assistant chief constable.

BBC News reports that the collator said the two officers had been told to go to the meeting in Dundalk.

On Thursday, the former assistant chief constable known only as witness 18, said that Breen had been instructed NOT to travel to Dundalk during a meeting on 16 March 1989.

However, the former collator told the tribunal yesterday that Bob Buchanan had been instructed to attend the meeting in Dundalk at that same meeting.

The collator said that Breen had not been at that meeting and added that if  Buchanan had been given an order he would definitely obey it.

The inquiry, which has a November deadline for completion, is due to hear evidence from over 200 witnesses including former RUC Special Branch officers, Democratic Unionist Party MP Jeffrey Donaldson and journalists Kevin Myers and Toby Harndon.

Related: Smithwick Tribunal spoke with former IRA members, says Gerry Adams >