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Dermot Ahern must raise MEP bugging admission report with Paul Murphy - de Brún

17 January, 2005

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has this morning urged the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern to raise the bugging of Belfast Sinn Féin offices with Paul Murphy at their meeting later today.

Ms de Brún made her comments after a Sunday newspaper revealed that the head of MI5, Eliza Manningham-Buller admitted her organisation had bugged the Sinn Féin offices at Connolly House in Belfast. The report says that Manningham-Buller's disclosure came at a closed meeting of the Westminster intelligence and security committee before Christmas. The discovery of the device came at a critical time in the peace process.

Speaking this morning, Ms de Brún said:

"Reports of head of MI5, Eliza Manningham-Buller's admission that MI5 bugged the Sinn Féin offices in west Belfast, including my own, will shock even those who have become hardened to the fact that the nationalist community has been spied upon and harassed for the past 35 years by these same shadowy organisations.

"We in Sinn Féin said at the time the bugging device was found that British Secretary of State Paul Murphy must have authorised the surveillance operation. In the light of this very disturbing report, I have asked Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Dermot Ahern, to raise the matter urgently with British Secretary of State Paul Murphy at today's meeting.

"Both myself and my colleague Mary Lou McDonald will also be raising this matter once again in the European Parliament at the highest levels.

"Sinn Féin raised this issue in the European Parliament back in September 2004 after the discovery of the bugging device. European Parliament President Josep Borrell raised the matter with the British Government, who gave the stock answer that they do not comment on individual cases.

"Given this highly disturbing report, the British government must now provide a satisfactory reply to the European Parliament, to the Irish government, and most importantly to the voters whose rights have been infringed.

"Time and again undercover British securocrats have created difficulties in the peace process, culminating with the closure of Stormont after unsubstantiated allegations of a spy-ring. These are the same people who have admitted responsibility for spying on republicans ten years into a peace process."ENDS

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