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5 August 2004 Edition

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Stormont raid report misses the point

In October 2002, the North witnessed a military-style storming of a democratic institution. The PSNI raid on Sinn Féin's Assembly offices at Stormont gave the British Government the opportunity to collude with unionist rejectionism against Irish republicanism.

After the predictable unionist outcry, the British stepped in to suspend the institutions. Almost two years on, they remain suspended.

This week, Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan published the results of her office's investigation into the raid. O'Loan said she had "found no evidence to suggest that the search was politically motivated or that it was designed to damage Sinn Féin and the peace process". The raid, she found, was "part of normal police process".

O'Loan did find that "no proper consideration was given by the police to the fact that they were searching the buildings of a legislative assembly". This was "a significant failing" by the PSNI.

The Ombudsman has chosen to ignore what was obvious to most people, the political timing and public spectacle of the raid. O'Loan also ignores the fact that the impact of the raid was demonstrably political rather than judicial. The PSNI have not been able to make a case against any of the four people arrested in connection with Operation Torsion.

Sinn Féin and the vast majority of nationalists believe that the stage-managed raid was planned and executed by an RUC cartel of political detectives, in the name of the PSNI. It was a politically motivated raid with the clear intent of collapsing the institutions and undermining the peace process.

The Ombudsman's report completely misses the point.

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