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ireland, irish, ulster, ireland, irish, ulster, Sinn Féin, Irish America

Baxter highlighted a murky world

(Suzanne Breen, Sunday Life)

It's only the tip of the iceberg. How many phone calls over the years have been made from important people in Northern Ireland to other important people suggesting arrested suspects be freed?

How many police officers have been as straight or stubborn (depending on your viewpoint) as Norman Baxter, and refused the requests?

Baxter's evidence at Westminster last week gave an insight into how the system works.

Former PSNI Chief Constable, Sir Hugh Orde, has cast doubt on his account, but for me the retired detective chief superintendent's claim has the ring of truth to it.

He was very precise. At 9.10pm on 8 March 2007, he received a phone call from the duty Assistant Chief Constable.

Gerry Adams had telephoned Downing Street demanding the release of two republicans, Downing Street then rang Orde's office repeating that request, and Baxter was in turn asked to comply.

It would be extremely foolish for Baxter to invent this. Phone records could easily prove no such calls were made.

Besides, Gerry Adams has confirmed he phoned Downing Street, though he claims only to protest at the arrests.

Allegations have previously been made that Sinn Féin tried to derail the Robert McCartney murder investigation.

The McCartney family say they were told by a British government official that a named Sinn Féin politician telephoned the then Secretary of State, Paul Murphy, to demand that police conducting vital house searches in the Markets hours after the murder be withdrawn.

When he couldn't speak to Murphy, who was at lunch, the Shinner left an angry message with his office.

Politicians of all shades have every right to publicly oppose police actions. But that's where their influence must end.

It's a very dangerous situation if, behind the scenes, they even think they can pull the strings and decide who should get justice and who should not.

April 7, 2014
________________

This article appeared in the April 6, 2014 edition of the Sunday Life.

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