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7 November 2002 Edition

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Corrupt Special Branch must go

Compton Report a failure, says Sinn Féin

"This report has failed to address the core issue of control by the Special Branch and MI5 over all aspects of policing in the Six Counties. The result of this has been collusion, shoot-to-kill and a manipulation of loyalist death squads."

This was the verdict of Sinn Féin policing spokesperson Gerry Kelly following the publication on Wednesday of the Compton Report on the police investigation of the Omagh bombing.

The review of the workings of Special Branch followed strong criticism by the Police Ombudsman, Nuala O'Loan, of the way they handled warnings given prior to the Omagh bomb in August 1998. It was carried out by Britain's Inspectorate of Constabulary and has been presented to the North's Policing Board.

The report's author, Dan Crompton, recommended a more transparent decision making process within the Special Branch, which could also be audited.

"This is just tinkering," said Gerry Kelly. "It's no good having a more transparent process when the Special Branch is still a force within a force, when it is still left to the discretion of the Special Branch whether or not to pass on information.

"The Compton Review arose directly from these activities and the attempts by Special Branch to frustrate any investigation of any of their activities during the Ombudsman's investigation into the Omagh bombing.

"This report does not recommend taking the power away from the Special Branch. It remains the same unreconstructed sectarian body we have had for the last 30 years.

"The litmus test for the Compton Review and a central requirement for a new beginning to policing is the ending of political and military manipulation of policing and the removal of the Special Branch as a force within a force. There must be full accountability and transparency in all aspects of policing."


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