SDLP question ‘privatisation’ of MI5…

The issue of MI5 reform hasn’t quite gone away. Or at least that’s what the SDLP hopes. Their line has consistently been that Sinn Fein negotiated ‘backwards’ from a deal where there would be partial oversight by the Policing Ombudsman, to no local oversight whatsoever. This was their statement this morning before a meeting with Hugh Orde:From Dolores Kelly:

The MI5 issue casts a long shadow over the North. The British Government still resists facing up to the issue. The Blair/Adams agreement to give MI5 a bigger and deeper role in Northern Ireland is a strategic error by Sinn Fein and a potential threat to the stability of the North.

The PSNI know the risks of a bigger, deeper role for MI5. The PSNI should therefore endorse the recommendation of the Police Ombudsman in her McCord Report and outlined at her press conference that there needed to be “equally effective” oversight of national security in the future as her office has in the present. The meeting with the Chief Constable will push the police on this and on:

– The numbers of ex-Special Branch people being recruited by MI5

– Given that MI5 was the source of monies paid to Mark Haddock, and given the claim that RUC intelligence requirements were set “at the highest levels in Whitehall,” does this not prove the threat and deep risks of MI5 having a bigger, deeper role in the North?

– In addition to MI5 already running republican agents of influence, will they have responsibility for even more republican agents in the future?

These questions go to the heart of the MI5 threat. The SDLP again calls on Sinn Fein to come “onside” with the SDLP on our proposals for oversight and complaints mechanisms for any MI5 involvement in the North. Sinn Fein have bought “a pig in a poke” with the Blair/Adams agreement on MI5 – Sinn Fein should back away now in the interests of everyone.


  • Nevin

    Durkan gets little change out of McNulty re. MI5

  • heck

    the stoops are ahead of the shinners on MI5

  • joeCanuck

    If anyone believes that the UK government will forbid MI5 to operate anywhere (and I mean anywhere), then they are living in cloud cuckoo land.

  • Mick Fealty

    The issue Joe, as the SDLP frame it, is that functions that were previously assigned to Special Branch are being ‘buried’ inside the inscrutable recesses of MI5.

    Although, I suspect the enormous scale of the building in Holywood has less to do with local function so much as harnessing local ‘anti terrorist’ expertise to wider UK operations.

  • joeCanuck

    I understand that Mick and it does give me concern too that there will be less scrutiny of “Special Branch” operations than there has been heretofore.
    Especially given the recent report by the Ombudsman.
    Is that question settled or is there still hope that there will be some independent oversight?

  • J_K

    Got to say I think the SDLP are 100% wrong on this.

    I think the biggest mistake would be for MI5 to be inside the policing structures setting the policing agenda – as in the past.

    Much better for policing and MI5 to be seperate.

    Let the police do the job they are paid for – and with good accountability mechanisms and republicans in there I suspect there will be a pretty rapid improvement.

    And then the issue of MI5 should be seperately accountable – although MI5 is a law unto itself – but the last thing we want in the intertwining of the two.

  • Mick Fealty

    Well, given that even the Westminster committee struggles to get any results from its limited investigations, we can say with certainty there will be no local scrutiny, and it will be negligible at UK level. Not everyone is inclined to think that a problem. But…

  • J Kelly

    The thing about MI5 like many other issues is that Durkan over complicates them and loses the message. The debacle over McQuillan is a perfect case in point. No one in the broader nationalist republican community honestly believes that the SDLP will negotiate better than Sinn Fein when it comes to these issues.

  • Redmo

    j_k: “Much better for policing and MI5 to be seperate.”

    Catch a grip of yourself.

    Intelligence is a key part of policing and should be scrutinised on that basis. SF are happy to move it because they want to cover their tracks.

  • ingram


    You are viewing this situation too simplistic.

    quote The issue Joe, as the SDLP frame it, is that functions that were previously assigned to Special Branch are being ‘buried’ inside the inscrutable recesses of MI5.unquote

    MI5 was always the paymaster of the RUC/PSNI SB and had overall control over the long game. The branch and FRU were always the hands on pawns at the coal face,nothing more, nothing less.

    MI5 had little active hands on involvement during the troubles,they had a primary say in the development though of HMG strategies that were implemented by the coal face workers. Today they have they have recruited many from the old SB and the FRU ( although Pat Mc denies this) and are merely a re badged version of what went before! a little like the day the FRU was re badged JSG, same cars, same buildings , same personel.

    This is just a cosmetic move to allow Sinn Fein some bragging rights at a difficult moment in time for the now defeated Republican movement.MI5 was never ever involved in civic policing, Sinn Fein know that, the public know that, indeed everybody knows that but it is part of the game to be played.

    Well done Sinn Fein, you removed MI5 from civic policing * large smile and a nodding head*

    These agencies had no real oversight commissioner and tomorrow and the day after will be no different.

    The end result is:

    No change.


    Ding Ding


  • Dougal

    Sounds to me like a deal was done between the Brits and the Shinners…. Time will tell. All theor dirty washing comes out in to the public sooner or later!