Castlereagh Collusion case finally exposed
Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness was today joined by Policing spokesperson Gerry Kelly and South Belfast Assembly member Alex Maskey for a press conference in Belfast. The press conference was called to deal with the fallout from the revelation that a document containing the details of hundreds of republicans and nationalists was stolen from Castlereagh PSNI base and handed to one of the unionist paramilitary groups.
Speaking at the press conference Mr McGuinness said:
" Last year a document containing the details of up to 400 people went missing from the Castlereagh security complex in East Belfast. In July 2004 it was leaked that an internal British Army probe into this was under way. 28 members of the RIR implicated at some level in this collusion conspiracy were moved to other duties. Only one was arrested. None were suspended. This remains the case.
" Due to the seriousness of this matter Sinn Féin sought meetings with the NIO Security Minister at the time Ian Pearson, and the then Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen.
" Ian Pearson stated publicly that he had "confirmed with senior officers in the PSNI that there are no indications that material has fallen into the hands of paramilitaries".
" Last night, however, over 50 people in the Short Strand were informed that their details were in the hands of loyalists. The PSNI gave the minimal amount of information. The loyalist group involved, the nature of the information and age of the information were not provided.
" Ian Pearson and his senior PSNI sources were clearly trying to cover up the clear and irrefutable evidence of collusion between the RIR and loyalist paramilitaries. Indeed there is a raft of comments by the British Security Minster Ian Pearson and senior British Army and security sources at that time which sought to do this.
" The British government, the British Army and the PSNI have consciously allowed over 400 people and their families to live under threat without informing them of this risk for over 16 months in order to sustain the cover up.
" The people contacted last night are angry both at the withholding of warnings for 16 months and the refusal to give them the information needed to employ proper measures to protect themselves and their families The other 350 people whose details are believed to be contained in the document and who have not been alerted to this are in an even more dangerous situation.
" The structures of collusion which have resulted in hundreds of deaths remain in place. So too the cover up at very senior levels of the British political and military establishment. This is totally unacceptable." ENDS
Editors Note: Quotes concerning Castlereagh Collusion issue
Ian Pearson, NIO Security Minister - July 2004
"I have confirmed with senior officers in the PSNI that there are no indications that material has fallen into the hands of paramilitaries."
Ian Pearson, NIO Security Minister - July 2004 when meeting Gerry Kelly
There is "no story" in the allegations about a security breach at Castlereagh
British Army spokesperson - July 2004
"The Army maintains stringent procedures for the handling of documentation and is taking very seriously the fact that a document is currently unaccounted for.
"As the security minister said today, there is no indication that any material has fallen into the hands of paramilitaries.
"Meanwhile, pending the outcome of the PSNI investigation, a number of military personnel have been transferred to alternative duties."
UDA sources - Sunday 25th July 2004
Claimed to be in possession of the document
Security source told PA - July 2004
"We would know within 24 hours if the UDA or any other paramilitary group had got hold of the document."
PSNI spokesperson - November 2005
Police said they recovered a document thought "linked to a breach of internal security in Army offices in July 2004".
The PSNI said in a statement that "as a result, police are now warning a number of people about their personal security".
15th November 2005 - Short Strand
Over 50 families in the Short Strand told by the PSNI that their details were found in the hands of loyalist paramilitaries