14 December 2005

SDLP attempting to defend the political detectives in Special Branch

Sinn Féin

Published: 14 December, 2005

Commenting on a meeting taking place today between the SDLP and the Attorney General to discuss the acquittal by the courts of three republicans who had been accused by the PSNI Special Branch of spying in Stormont and the comments of the SDLP in Westminster this morning, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Policing issues Gerry Kelly said:

" Since the remaining three people charged in relation to this matter were found not guilty last week there has been an attempt to try and shift responsibility for this debacle from a group of political detectives within the PSNI onto the Public Prosecution Service. The SDLP as part of a new policing establishment and eager to defend flawed policing in a bid to justify their position of jumping too soon on the issue have regrettably become part of this effort.

" The reality is that this entire operation from the political theatre at Stormont with the initial raid to the selected briefing of journalists has been planned, controlled and directed by political detectives within the PSNI. The clear intention of those behind this operation was to cause maximum political effect. They achieved this result. They subverted the political and democratic process and caused the collapse of the political institutions.

" The SDLP need to face up to the reality of political policing. They must face up to the reality that an element of the old RUC is still active and still exercising a malign influence over policing from within the PSNI. This element needs to be dealt with. Ignoring it or trying to place the responsibility for what was clearly a political policing operation onto the PPS or anyone else does a disservice to the aim of creating an accountable and acceptable civic policing service.

" The fact remains that this operation which resulted in the bringing down of a government happened during the SDLPs time on the Policing Board. They for whatever reason proved unable or unwilling to deal with it. They should not now try and cover up this inaction with an effort to shift the blame for this away from the political detectives operating within the PSNI." ENDS

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