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SF will oppose Ritchie plans for Special Branch Mark 2

16 August, 2010 - by Alex Maskey

Sinn Fein spokesperson on policing issues Alex Maskey has said that his party would actively oppose SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie’s plan for a Special Branch Mark 2 to operate within the PSNI.

Mr Maskey said:

“When Margaret Ritchie calls for intelligence gathering to be located within the PSNI what she actually means is a return to the past.

“The practical outworking of what she is calling for is the embedding of MI5 into the PSNI. That would be the practical outworking of her suggestion. She is in effect calling for the malign influence of MI5 to be allowed to contaminate the new policing structures of the PSNI.

“We have of course been down this road before. It is what gave us the Special Branch as a force within a force, unaccountable and untouchable. The result was individuals like Mark Haddock and the Mount Vernon UVF, controlled directed and manipulated to kill Catholics.

“The decision to remove MI5 from policing structures and close down and disband the Special Branch was essential to getting the nationalist and republican community to endorse the new policing structures. Quite why Margaret Ritchie has become a cheerleader for British spooks and their desire to pollute civic policing here is a matter for her to explain.

“For our part Sinn Féin will oppose the SDLP plans for a Special Branch mark 2. It is crucial that the PSNI at all levels remain accountable. There cannot be another Special Branch arrangement. The PSNI have an investigative wing which works within the accountability mechanisms. The PSNI have made clear they have full access to all intelligence. Policing Board members, including SDLP members, are routinely briefed on this. Given her comments this morning it seems that Margaret Ritchie hasn’t been briefed by her Board colleagues on the detail of any of this.” ENDS

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