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1 December 2005 Edition

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Missing files expose British cynicism

The British Government is being accused of, "cynical manipulation", of people's fears by refusing to come clean over files in the hands of unionist death squads, taken from Castlereagh Barracks in July 2004.

At the time the British denied the files had been passed on to loyalists.

But, two weeks ago the PSNI visited 50 nationalists in Short Strand, to tell them they were under threat from unionist paramilitaries and that the source of the threat was the Castlereagh files.

The PSNI informed a number of republicans, including party President Gerry Adams, that their details are among the missing files.

Since then the PSNI have visited seven republicans in Belfast, warning them their lives are in danger. Also visited was Séamus Finucane, brother of assassinated solicitor Pat Finucane, Ardoyne Councillor Margaret Finucane and former Councillor Seán Hayes. It is the 14th time in two years that Hayes was told of a threat to his life.

Speaking to An Phoblacht Séamus Finucane said the PSNI called to his former home address in Belfast on Friday 25 November despite being told that he no longer lived there.

"The circumstances of this current spate of threats are reminiscent of what happened to Pat and proves that the British policy of collusion still exists. The onus is on the state to directly inform you if you are under threat and the fact that they are visiting people a couple at a time means there are hundreds of republicans out there who could be in danger yet they are deliberately being kept in the dark by the British.

"This is a cynical manipulation of people's fears by the British. This drip feed of information is also designed to take away the impact of the fact that the British have known for 16 months whose details were in the hands of these deaths squads yet did nothing to inform people of this danger."

Finucane confirmed that he has been warned on a number of occasions that he is under threat. The first time was within months of Pat's death when information was leaked form Dunmurry PSNI Barracks.

"In recent years other members of our family have been told they are under serious threat from unionist death squads. The British collusion policy has focused entirely on the protection of state agents and state agencies, rather than the protection of the right to life of citizens. That policy is clearly continuing today."

Seán Hayes accused the British Government of deliberately withholding information about the Castlereagh theft.

Sinn Féin West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty has urged all those contacted by the PSNI to contact the party as Sinn Féin is anxious to quantify how many people have been told that their files are in the hands of unionist death squads as a result of the Castlereagh scandal."

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