THE government is to establish a major inquiry into collusion between the gardaí and the IRA after an independent Canadian judge said that there was evidence that rogue gardaí may have provided information that led to the murder of two senior RUC officers.

An inquiry is believed to be one of the key recommendations of Judge Peter Cory who presented a report on the issue to the Taoiseach last week.

Cory spent the last 18 months investigating allegations of collusion between the security forces and paramilitaries, North and South. The report is not scheduled for publication for another two months.

The Irish and British governments are committed to implementing Cory's recommendations. He investigated six cases of alleged collusion in paramilitary atrocities, four in the North involving loyalist paramilitaries, and two in the Republic involving the IRA.

While the judge's recommendations are being kept under wraps, official sources have indicated that preparations are being made for public inquiries in both jurisdictions. It is believed that Cory has recommended an inquiry into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane by loyalists and the murder of two senior RUC officers by the IRA. There is no indication as to what he has recommended in the other cases.

While there has been a vocal campaign for a public inquiry into the Finucane case and of murdered solicitor Rosemary Nelson, the inquiry into allegations of collusion between the gardaí and the IRA has not attracted the same attention until now.

The two senior RUC men, chief superintendent Harry Breen and superintendent Bob Buchanan, were murdered by the IRA in March, 1989, when they returned to the North after a meeting with senior garda officers in Dundalk.

It was widely rumoured afterwards that a mole in the gardaí had tipped off the IRA about the movement of the two officers.