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Nationalist withdrawal from Six County policing bodies must follow highly critical report

06/12/12

Breandán Mac Cionnaithéirígí general secretary, Breandán Mac Cionnaith has welcomed a major report by the Committee on the Administration of Justice investigating the links between MI5 and the PSNI. He has also urged nationalist politicians to withdraw from policing bodies in the Six Counties.

Mac Cionnaith said the report, published by the independent human rights organisation on Wednesday December 5th, substantially vindicates what éirígí has been saying for quite some time.

Responding to the CAJ report, entitled The Policing You Don’t See, éirígí’s Breandán Mac Cionnaith said, “This report is a very welcome exposé on the very clear links between the PSNI and MI5. The report also substantially vindicates what we, in éirígí, have been saying for several years.

“Indeed, the report shines a spotlight on an area which the two main constitutional nationalist parties in the Six Counties have quite deliberately chosen to shy away from. The reason for that reticence is very clear – the often repeated claims made since 2007 by both Sinn Féin and the SDLP that they successfully ended the era of political policing in the Six Counties can now be seen to be untrue.

“Those two parties are very much aware of the reality of the very structured links between MI5 and the PSNI but have chosen not to highlight or publicise these unpalatable facts. To do so would be an admission that their decisions to support and endorse policing in the Six Counties were wrong. They know that such an admission would not only be publicly embarrassing, it would also be extremely politically damaging.”

Mac Cionnaith also issued a challenge to the leaderships of Sinn Féin and the SDLP: “If the leaderships of these parties have any integrity at all, they should publicly acknowledge the failure of their policing project and instruct all members of their respective parties to withdraw from the Six County Policing Board and from the Policing and Community Safety Partnerships.

“While those parties retain their positions on such bodies, they are condoning, supporting and maintaining a new era of political policing and turning a blind eye to the clear establishment of a force within a force.”

One thing is obvious from the CAJ report – the claim by both Sinn Féin and the SDLP that they had ended the era of political policing in the Six Counties is a complete falsehood.

éirígí has consistently pointed out publicly on many occasions the fact that the PSNI, as is the case with any British police, is completely subservient to all demands made by MI5.

The dramatic increase of people across the Six Counties reporting approaches by MI5 to the party saw éirígí launch a new ‘know your rights’ information leaflet in relation to MI5 last month. At the same, the party also pointed out that many former RUC personnel (including Special Branch) had been recruited by MI5 and were now working out of Palace Barracks in Holywood, just outside Belfast.

CAJ’s report paints a vivid picture of MI5 controlling policing at all levels across the Six Counties and exposes the surreptitious nature of its activities.

The report makes reference to material that has come to light in court cases, media reports and individual allegations which include:

  • Concerns over practices used to recruit informers: including attempts to recruit informers placing persons at risk, allegations of threats, harassment and misuse of police powers;
  • MI5 use of ‘agent provocateurs’;
  • The murder of Kieran Doherty in Derry in 2009;
  • Stop and Search: the extent to which MI5 is directing the usage of stop and search powers by the PSNI;
  • MI5 and British military ‘special forces’: in 2009 the PSNI announced they were calling in the British Army’s Special Recognisance Regiment (SRR). However, earlier indications show that the SRR were operating in the Six Counties before this date and that the SRR report to MI5.

Palace BarracksFurthermore, as éirígi has also previously highlighted, the numbers of PSNI personnel working directly with MI5 could be anywhere in the region of 1,500, although the CAJ reports suggests that this figure now be even as high as 2,500 personnel – one third of the PSNI’s total manpower. This clearly indicates the formal establishment of ‘a force within a force’ accountable to no-one.

Referring to a conference on policing at the University of Ulster, the report states “there appeared to be consensus among some commentators that the ‘force within a force’ had in essence just ‘moved down the road’” (to MI5’s base).

The report also details how, at a recent policing conference, one PSNI District Commander openly remarked that he regularly attended MI5 headquarters to be briefed on how stop and search was to be operated in his area. Another senior PSNI officer also remarked that MI5 requests the granting of stop and search ‘authorisations’.

Clearly, when viewed in the overall context of the CAJ report, these cases are not isolated but are demonstrative of a very structured, systemic and organic relationship between MI5 and the PSNI.

It is also obvious that both Sinn Féin and the SDLP have proven to be completely impotent and powerless as the establishment of this force within a force occurred under their watch.

Indeed, the role of these parties is far from one of innocence or ignorance as the report also shows that MI5 has provided official briefings to the Six County Policing Board on at least three occasions in recent years. Senior party members from both Sinn Féin and the SDLP are members of that same Policing Board.

CAJ also, for the first time, publicly exposes direct links between MI5 and the Six County prison service. It is clear that these links, on the grounds of British national security, with prison service personnel reporting directly to MI5, are unequivocally relate to Republican prisoners held in the Six Counties.

What should also be of particular concern to everyone is the fact that this highly critical report comes at a time when the British government is bringing forward further repressive legislation in the form of the Justice and Security Bill. This will give even more power to MI5 and the political police and will allow for the introduction of secret courts and the widespread use of secret evidence.

The full CAJ report entitled The Policing You Don’t See can be accessed here:
The Policing You Don't See, CAJ, November 2012

 

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