16 February 2006

MI5 tried to set up bombing: McGuinness

BN.ie

16/02/2006 - 10:49:16

A member of MI5 tried to coax loyalists into launching a bomb attack on Martin McGuinness’s home, he alleged today.

As the British government prepared to publish legislation enabling the transfer of policing and justice powers to a future devolved administration at Stormont, Sinn Féin’s chief negotiator any lead role it may give to MI5 in running informers and agents in the North.

He also claimed a considerable amount of work on policing and justice would still have to be done before his party could participate on bodies designed to hold the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to account.

Mr McGuinness said: “We are totally opposed to any MI5 role in intelligence-gathering, let alone giving it the lead role.

“In the circumstances of restored political institutions, we believe it should be the responsibility of the government in the North to deal with all of these matters.

“Anyone who knows anything about the history of MI5 knows it has played a very negative role in events in the North over the past 25 years.

“Indeed I was informed at one stage that a member of MI5 tried to encourage a leading loyalist paramilitary to throw 30lb of gelignite through the window of a house I was living in in Derry.

“The experience of MI5 among republicans has been very bad and I have to say anyone who thinks it is acceptable for MI5 to have a role in intelligence-gathering is living in cloud cuckoo land.”

MI5 is expected to take over the primary responsibility from the Police Service of Northern Ireland for running agents and informers in the North in late 2007.

In preparation for its role, the organisation is believed to be preparing to move to a new base in at Palace Barracks in Holywood, Co Down.

The proposal has, however, been criticised by SDLP leader Mark Durkan who warned British Prime Minister Tony Blair at a meeting in London yesterday that his party would oppose any role for MI5 because it will be unaccountable to the Policing Board or an executive at Stormont.

PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde has, however, defended the move, calling it a healthy split in responsibilities.

With Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain due to announce a new look Policing Board in April, there has also been considerable interest in whether Sinn Féin will take up the seats it has so far refused.

Republicans will not participate in the board because they argue police reforms have not gone far enough despite their endorsement by the Catholic Church, the Irish and US Governments and the SDLP.

They have also accused elements within the PSNI of authorising and mounting politically-motivated policing operations against republicans.

Sinn Féin has long argued for legislation committing the British government to the transfer of policing and justice powers from Westminster to Stormont.

However as his party prepared to debate 37 motions on policing and justice affecting members on both sides of the border at its annual conference in Dublin this weekend, Mr McGuinness said there was still considerable work to be done.

“In the negotiations that took place in December 2004 Sinn Fein outlined what was required,” he said.

“In the course of the coming days we are going to see the enabling legislation made public. That will have to be examined very carefully to see if it meets the needs of our constituents.

“So there’s still quite a lot of work to do. The publication of the enabling legislation on its own is not going to be enough to resolve differences.

“There will also have to be crucial discussions between the Democratic Unionist Party, Sinn Féin and others about how we deal with policing and justice in the context of a restored Assembly.

“There are a lot of ideas circulating as to how a department would work and how it would fit into the 10 ministries. We have our own ideas but we want to hear what the DUP and others have to say.”

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