16 February 2006 Edition

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Enhanced role for MI5 slammed

. The securocrats are moving from a base in Stormont to Palace Barracks at Hollywood, County Down in preparation for their new role. Sinn Féin has slammed the development.

The move is seen as particularly unhelpful in light of the fact that recent controversial events in North, which were clearly designed to undermine the Peace Process, bore MI5's fingerprints. These included the alleged break in at PSNI Special Branch offices at Castlereagh and the Stormontgate affair.

An investigation into the Castlereagh incident, sponsored by the British government under John Chilcott, himself a former MI5 officer, resulted in a report recommending that MI5 take primacy for intelligence operations in the North.

It recently emerged that the Stormongate affair, which was also used to undermine the Peace Process, had a self-confessed British agent - Denis Donaldson - at its very heart.

The British secret services have a long, malign and bloody record of involvement in Irish affairs, particularly over the past 30-odd years of conflict in the Six Counties.

In recent years British bugging devices found in several Sinn Féin offices and in cars used by Sinn féin leaders have been attributed to MI5.

One of the most notorious assassinations, but by no means the only one, that MI5 were involved in is that of Belfast defence Solicitor Pat Finucane whose family are still fighting for a public inquiry.

MI5 is also widely believed to have masterminded unionist paramilitary bomb attacks in the 26 Counties, including the Dublin/Monaghan bombings of 1974 and to have had notorious sectarian assassins among the unionist paramilitaries under their control throughout the conflict.

In these circumstances MI5's assumption of primacy in intelligence operations has to be seen as an extremely sinister and retrograde step.

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