RIR IN NEW COLLUSION SCANDAL
Members of the British Army's Royal Irish Regiment have been
blamed for the "disappearance" of a top secret document from
joint British Army/PSNI base in east Belfast. The missing
document contains the names and details of over 400 people.
A very slow drip-feed of information has emerged on the incident
from unofficial sources, despite strong fears that it is already
in the hands of unionist death squads and will lead to loss of
Some thirty members of the British Army's Royal Irish Regiment
have been withdrawn from certain duties in connection with the
document's disappearance. It was also reported that homes were
raided in relation to this matter.
Incredibly, none of those listed in the files have yet been
informed of the danger posed.
British officials have only confirmed that the document is lost,
but have refused to allow that it has fallen into the hands of
Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly said he feared a "major collusion
scandal" was unfolding.
"I believe that the British are trying to suppress this story.
It has only emerged through leaks."
Last week, one soldier was arrested but later released.
Twenty-eight soldiers were withdrawn from security duties at
Castlereagh and at watchtowers in nationalist areas.
It emerged today that the British army's Special Investigations
Branch has interviewed the soldiers and at least eight of the
troops are to face further questioning.
The British Direct Ruler Paul Murphy has been called on to make
a public statement over the removal of the soldiers.
Sinn Fein today staged a protest beneath the British Army
observation post at Divis Tower, where some of the soldiers were
reported to have worked.
During today's protest in west Belfast, North Belfast Assembly
member Gerry Kelly said it was untenable for the British to
maintain silence on the security breach.
"There is a real fear that the events unfolding in Castlereagh
and at Divis Tower spy post are another chapter in the collusion
scandal," he said.
"We have a dossier missing from Castlereagh and the potential
for intelligence gathering on the nationalist community from
Divis Tower is very obvious.
"Paul Murphy is now back in Ireland and I am demanding that he
makes a statement on this scandal," Mr Kelly said.
He added it was essential that all those listed in the document
were informed of the possible threat to their safety.
Given previous evidence of collusion, he said nationalists had
no faith in a PSNI assessment that people's lives were not at
The sprawling barracks at Castlereagh in east Belfast is the hub
of intelligence gathering by the PSNI Special Branch. Despite
claims that security had been increased following a still
unsolved "raid" of sensitive documents inside the heart of the
base two years ago, it has emerged that some soldiers based
there had co clearance to work at the complex.
The Royal Irish Regiment, largely incorporating the old Ulster
Defence Regiment (UDR), has a notorious history of acting in
tandem with the UDA and UVF to target and kill nationalists and
Mr Kelly, speaking after a meeting with the British Security
Minister yesterday, said Ian Pearson seemed to expect that the
scandal would also just "disappear".
He warned that a cover-up was underway.
" Yesterday Ian Pearson informed me at the beginning of our
meeting that the discussions would be brief as there was 'no
story' in the allegations about a security breach in
Castlereagh. It seems that the British have adopted the classic
say nothing and hope that it will disappear attitude to this
" When people's lives are in danger and being put at risk this
is simply not acceptable. It is long past the time for Ian
Pearson to come clean."
He said Sinn Fein would continue to press the British government
to "end the pretence that nothing is wrong and face up to the
reality and gravity of the situation.
"The silence and attempts at cover-up from the British
government, the NIO, the PSNI and the British Army only add to
the view held by nationalists and republicans that we are
witnessing the emergence of yet another collusion scandal."