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9 December 1999 Edition

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British bug Adams

Blair must provide answers


Two fundamental questions surround the discovery of a sophisticated bug in a car used by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams. They are: (i) Who authorised the operation? and (ii) If the British government did not, then are elements within the British secret services in Ireland now effectively out of control?

Importantly, it has been pointed out by Sinn Féin that the bugged vehicle was used by Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness specifically to travel to and from crucial meetings with the IRA during the period of the Mitchell Review.

The bugging operation represents an extremely serious breach of faith against the Sinn Féin leadership at an important stage in the development of the peace process and is a worrying reminder of the failed security/military agenda which the current process was designed to put behind us.

The operation bears all the hallmarks of a state-sponsored covert intelligence operation, for which the British have been responsible so many times in the past. It is imperative that British Prime Minister Tony Blair addresses the matter urgently.

 

Dirty tricks exposed

 

High-tech bug found in car used by Sinn Féin leaders


 
BY LAURA FRIEL

    
The highly sophisticated surveillance device was skillfully built into the body of the car in such a way as to make it impossible for anyone carrying out repairs on the vehicle to find it. It was built to the specifications of the car and was colour coded to the car
``A serious breach of faith'' is how Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams described the placing of listening and tracking surveillance equipment in a car used by Sinn Féin's leadership during the most critical stages within the recent Mitchell Review. The car, a year-old Mondeo, was used by both Martin McGuinness, Sinn Fein's chief negotiator and by Gerry Adams travelling to and from crucial meetings with the IRA.

The highly sophisticated surveillance device was skillfully built into the body of the car in such a way as to make it impossible for anyone carrying out repairs on the vehicle to find the device. It was built to the specifications of the car and was colour coded to the car.

    
Martin McGuinness said that there was no doubt that this was the work of British Military Intelligence
The device has a digital tracking capability, probably linked by satellite. It has digitally enhanced audio transmission, an output of 20-30 watts, linear amplification and is heat sensitive. There was a transmission aerial and an input aerial, which allows for the device to be switched off and on by remote control.

The tracking system included rechargeable batteries wired to the car in such a way as to allow recharging only while the car was running. There was also a sensor and a microphone. The microphone, as small as a match head, was built into the middle of the roof of the vehicle. The wiring, which connected each part of the device, ran along the skin of the car.


 
In a dramatic development, Sinn Féin cancelled its launch of the party's ``Programme for Government'', scheduled to be held at Stormont on Wednesday. Instead, the gathered media were shown video footage of the vehicle with the device exposed but still attached and still photographs taken to show the position of each component part within the vehicle. The actual device was displayed on a table in front of the Sinn Fein team.

Visibly angry, Gerry Adams said the vehicle had been used by both himself and Martin McGuinness at times of crucial developments during the recent Mitchell Review of the peace process. As part of the review process, Adams said he and Sinn Féin's chief negotiator, Martin McGuinness, had been asked to meet the IRA to persuade them to go beyond the requirements of the Good Friday Agreement. The success of Sinn Féin's intercession, said Adams, had led to the positive outcome in which we find ourselves today.

The bugging of the vehicle used by the two republican leaders during this highly sensitive part of the process was ``an outrageous breach of faith'', said Gerry Adams, ``which must be addressed at the highest levels.'' Adams said that he had been in contact with both the British and Irish governments. ``There are two questions which need answering,'' said Adams, ``who sanctioned this and, if no one sanctioned this, are there those securocrats who are working to their own agenda?''

Addressing the news conference, Martin McGuinness said that there was no doubt that this was the work of British Military Intelligence. ``We have all lived through the consequences of the dirty tricks of these spooks and spies and their agents and informers,'' said McGuinness. ``The Dublin and Monaghan bombings, the murders of Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson. This element within the British military establishment is intent on resisting the changes necessary to bring about the establishment of a normal society on this island.''

Adams said the surveillance equipment had been discovered during routine security checks carried out by Sinn Féin. The vehicle was owned by someone who had no political background beyond being a committed supporter of the peace process. ``Tony Blair, who has been well disposed towards the peace process, needs to address this matter urgently,'' said Adams. ``There can be no return to the old failed agenda of the securocrats and their dirty war.'' A spokesperson for the NIO claimed there was no question of the security services pursuing their own agenda.


Britain's hidden hand remains as Direct Rule ends



BY SEAN BRADY

    
Gerry Adams demanded British government action on demilitarisation. Adams said there was a ``huge onus on Peter Mandelson to deliver and deliver big time on the obligations and the commitments of his government. What we need now is action on the ground, pronto.
At midnight on Wednesday, 1 December, power was devolved from Westminster to the Six-County Executive, ending 27 years of direct British rule in the north of Ireland and introducing an entirely new set of political arrangements, opening the way to a peaceful future.

But the discovery this week of a sophisticated electronic listening and tracking device attached to a car used by the Sinn Féin leadership during the Michell Review has shown that the hidden hand of the British state security services remains an unwelcome feature of political life in Ireland.

Securocrats within the British system have opposed the peace process from the beginning and at critical points in its development have sought to bring the process down. The discovery of the bugging device is extremely damaging to the building of trust that is needed beween all sides in Britain and Ireland if the momentum for change and faith in the political process are to be maintained.

The development also represents nothing less than an offensive action against the Sinn Féin leadership. It comes at an extremely delicate juncture in the development of a political path out of 30 years of conflict.

On the same day that power was devolved to the Executive, a shadow meeting of the all-Ireland Ministerial Council was held at Stormont as part of the formalities required to establish new all-Ireland implementation bodies. The meeting was attended by 26-County Justice Minister John O'Donoghue, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Liz O'Donnell and Six-County First Minister and Deputy First Minister David Trimble and Séamus Mallon.

    
The discovery of the bugging device has shown that the hidden hand of the British state security services remains an unwelcome feature of political life in Ireland.
At a ceremony in Iveagh House the following day, the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs David Andrews and the British Secretary of State for the North Peter Mandelson, signed the commencement orders for the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. Following this ceremony, the 26-County Cabinet met to give effect to the revised version of Articles Two and Three of the 1937 Constitution.

Also on Thursday, a meeting of the Six-County Executive took place at Stormont. The meeting was jointly chaired by David Trimble and Séamus Mallon. While the eight ministers representing the UUP, SDLP and Sinn Féin attended, the two ministers representing Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) boycotted the meeting.

The IRA, in a statement on Thursday evening, confirmed that it was appointing a representative to enter into discussions with General John de Chastelain and the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning, despite deep concern at new conditions which the UUP have introduced to the situation.

The IRA statement read:

``On Wednesday, 17 November, the IRA leadership announced that, following the establishment of the institutions agreed on Good Friday last year, they would appoint a representative to enter into discussions with the IICD.

``We have since expressed our concern at the conditions which the Ulster Unionist Party have introduced to the establishment of these institutions.

``The implications of this serious development are being carefully considered.

``Despite this we will honour our committment. We confirm that a representative has now been appointed to enter into discussions with the IICD.''

On Sunday, Óglaigh na h-Éireann confirmed that its representative had met with the IICD. Meanwhile, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams demanded British government action on demilitarisation in the North. Adams said there was a ``huge onus on Peter Mandelson to deliver and deliver big time on the obligations and the commitments of his government. What we need now is action on the ground, pronto.'' Adams added that a statement from Mandelson announcing his intention to launch an initial review period on demilitarisation lasting until next year was ``not good enough''.

``I'm saying they need to move and move quickly and bring about big change on these issues as speedily as possible,'' said Adams, who particularly criticised the enduring presence of British military installations in nationalist areas such as South Armagh and West Belfast.

The Six-County Assembly met on Monday, 6 December and passed a salary increase for Assembly members against resistance from Sinn Féin, which opposed the increase as a matter of social justice

Voting against the move, Gerry Adams said: ``It concerns me that the first order of business to be considered today is a substantial increase in salaries for members.

``I would point out that the increase suggested is almost three times more than the income of a single person on Income Support.

``As with the present salary, any increase voted through this house today will not personally benefit any member of our party. We will argue against this substantial increase but if approved then, as with the bulk of remuneration presently being paid, it will be invested in building our constituency services, to provide better facilities and access to representatives for constituents.''

A number of politically-inspired protests around the appointment of Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness as Education Minister took place at schools in loyalist areas of the Six Counties on Tuesday of this week.

McGuinness suggested the protests had been orchestrated by elements in the DUP. ``The older people out there who are clearly instigating these protests need to consider whether or not they are doing these children any favour at all,'' he said.

Sinn Féin had convened a press conference at Stormont on Wednesday, 8 December to launch the party's Programme for Government, but the launch was cancelled with the discovery of the listening device in a car used by Gerry Adams during the Mitchell Review.

Adams pointed out that he had specifically used the car at a time when he and Martin McGuinness had persuaded the IRA to appoint a representative to the de Chastelain Commission and said it was a very serious example of the securocrat agenda.
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