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Police raid cannot be justified insists MLA

(William Graham, Irish News)

Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly yesterday (Tuesday) insisted that the police raid of his party's offices at Stormont in 2002 was "unjustifiable".

The North Belfast assembly member accused Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde of trying to defend the Special Branch operation that led to the democratically elected institutions' collapse.

Mr Kelly said the primary justification appeared to be that the PSNI had recovered documents at a house in the west of the city.

"What Hugh Orde neglects to tell the public is that the documents were recovered from the home of Special Branch agent Denis Donaldson," Mr Kelly said.

"Denis Donaldson was at the heart of a British spy ring and a securocrat conspiracy which brought down the elected government. He was not acting on behalf of republicans or our peace process agenda.

"He was at all times working to the agenda set by the British state who employed him.

"It is clear that the British state agencies who mounted this entire operation knew that there was no value – other than political theatre – to raid the Sinn Féin offices in Stormont.

"No documents or evidence were recovered in that raid. The two disks taken at random and removed were returned to the party within days.

"Hugh Orde is unable to justify the raid on Stormont because it was unjustifiable."

However, Democratic Unionist MP Nigel Dodds welcomed Sir Hugh's comments.

He said the chief constable's intervention had strengthened arguments for transparency from the British government about the Stormontgate affair.

"It seems from his comments today that Hugh Orde is clearly angry that IRA/Sinn Féin are able to wriggle out of responsibility for the spy ring at Stormont," he said.

"The chief constable's remarks today only strengthen the case for a full statement from government ministers about the whole affair."

After a meeting with Secretary of State Peter Hain, Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey also warned that public confidence in the political process was low following the Stormontgate affair.

"It is clear to me, following my meeting, that the secretary of state and government intend to batten down the hatches and refuse a public inquiry," he said.

"The chief constable confirmed this morning, beyond any reasonable doubt, that a major and so-phisticated spy network existed right at the heart of government.

"Sinn Féin were infiltrated and caught red-handed with their hands in the till. All of this spells a huge job of work for politicians to restore credibility in the process."

Meanwhile, An Fhirinne, a group campaigning for families of victims of security-force collusion with loyalists, yesterday called for an inquiry into the government's actions over Stormontgate.

December 22, 2005

This article appeared first in the December 21, 2005 edition of the Irish News.

This article appears thanks to the Irish News. Subscribe to the Irish News