Civil servant failed 2004 security vetting due to intelligence report on brother

BBC Northern Ireland home affairs correspondent, Vincent Kearney, reports on the case of Kevin Kennedy, who is suing the PSNI after he was forced to resign from a job with the Northern Ireland Policing Board in 2004 after failing a security vetting.

Last month, Mr Kennedy failed in a legal attempt to gain access to the intelligence information on which the police based their assessment.

During a hearing at the High Court in Belfast, it was revealed that the Board was told during the summer of 2004 that Mr Kennedy failed security vetting because of historical and recent intelligence regarding his brother, Dermot Kennedy, which had been assessed as reliable and accurate information.

It said the intelligence was very sensitive and a matter of national security.

Dermot Kennedy is a former Sinn Fein Westminster and Assembly election candidate and has never been convicted of a criminal offence.

According to ARK, Dermot Kennedy was an unsuccessful candidate for Sinn Féin in Strangford in the 2003 Assembly Election and the 2005 General Election, in Castlereagh South in the 2005 Local Government Election, and again in Strangford in the 2007 Assembly Election.

He did not stand in this year’s General Election.

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  • Free State Barsteward

    Never mind the law, National Security trumps all.

  • Pete Baker

    Them’s the rules.

  • socaire

    I know a man who was in the Civil Service and applied for a job with the Ombudsman’s Office. He was refused on security grounds but challenged this and was told that Special Branch had provided evidence that he had attended the funeral of an IRA volunteer. He was able to prove that he had been at work that day and subsequently got the job. Just goes to show ………..!

  • Pete Baker

    Is Kevin Kennedy’s brother contesting the intelligence report?

  • I don’t see how he could be since it has not yet been released and probably won’t be.

    These background checks can be very thorough however reasonable suspicion comes into it and the standards of evidence aren’t high unless they’ve changed since I had experience of them, e.g. once had an innocent pint several years ago with a guy you didn’t even know may have been on the fringes of the provos etc.

    On another note, does David Ford routinely have access to the vetting checks or will he be kept out of the loop also going forward, as I suspect ?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    As a general rule, the politicians wont know much for “operational reasons”.
    The curious thing here is the wording “historical and recent intelligence”.
    Presumably a lot of folks would be ruled out if it was just “historic”
    Certainly at local level in at least two places I can think of District Partnerships where “historic” intelligence would rule out some people.
    Id assume other Slugger readers would know some.
    So the key word here is “recent” (ie recent in 2004). Not that it is necessarily to be believed.
    Certainly in the ranks of our finest boys and girls, there appears to be a few with a “family history”.

  • Cynic

    The thing that strikes me is , what information would the Policing Board ever have that would be of any use to anyone? So why was such a high level of vetting needed?

  • USA

    Disgraceful decision. Sounds like a police state.

  • fin

    But, but, but….. I am reliably and regularily informed by several posters on slugger that every member of the P/C/RIRA is a ‘Tout’ and that Sinn Fein is managed by MI5/6 so there must be a simple theory for this obviously Gerry Adams has decided that the individual should not get the job or something like that. I’m sure one of those posters with the inside track on republican touts and agents will be along soon to explain it all,

  • Dec

    Difficult since Special Branch won’t divulge the contents of that intelligence report. However, if Mr Kennedy is looking for alternative employment he could join the UVF, rise to the rank of mid-Ulster commander and then get all the government building contracts he wants – refurbishing dole offices and the like.

  • Critical Alien

    “These background checks can be very thorough however reasonable suspicion comes into it and the standards of evidence aren’t high”

    That’s a pretty dodgy combination, isn’t it? Erring on the side of more than caution. Would it be fair to say that many, many people would have had contact of some sort with reprehensible kinds, given the size of the place and the size of its strife?

    I’m also struck by the mealy-mouthed statement from the authorities. It sort of implies guilt by association. But, at the same time, doesn’t alledge a crime. Surely that’s a dangerous way of doing things. The brother and the man himself are made to look a bit shady.

  • Granni Trixie

    I seem to remember that in the ‘old’ days the Fair Employment agency tried several times to take on the system as regards a couple of cases of people being turned down for jobs on grounds of info held. This was to try to establish the right to know what info. (and natrural justice I presume).
    With no success. Same answers as given above.

    Quite a contrast isnt it to sytems of info on priests which impact not a jot it seems?
    (but lets not go there or the off topic police will be on our tail).

  • Cynic


    ” Sounds like a police state.”

    Have you read the Patriot Act? Now there is a police state to be proud of

  • Cynic

    ” every member of the P/C/RIRA is a ‘Tout’ and that Sinn Fein is managed by MI5/6″

    None ever said that. Only about 30% of them are.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Its a bit odd that Vincent Kearney of the BBC has not mentioned that the Security Services vet ……BBC employees.
    There is a room at the BBC in London which is run by the MI5.
    Previously the MI5 guy put a little “Christmas tree” marking on the file cover to indicate positive vetting.
    More than likely there is an appointee of MI5/6 whatever operating in Ormeau Avenue to weed out potential security threats.
    And a quick search thru the Internet will turn up some quite well “foreign correspondents” who are alleged, probably by very paranoid people to have links with spookery.

    In the specific world of Norn Iron, Im sure many people here on the site have been either “vetted” (ie a quick search reveals nothing known) or “positively vetted” (where a more substantial process was undertaken).
    My own observation is that its not all that thorough.

  • Battle of the Bogside

    Does that mean then that 1in3 attacks by republicans were carried out by the British government?

    Was the Omagh Bomb, the Antrim shootings or the attacks on PSNI officers part of the 1in3???

  • Battle of the Bogside

    Maybe the Eniskillen bomb was 1in3???

  • joeCanuck

    Yes, but shouldn’t the citizenry be told what the rules are so that they can take action or avoid situations that could result in a negative vetting. Mind you , you can’t choose your brother.

  • Dodgy indeed; subjective, certainly. Given the size of this state the chances of being connected with someone who the state could regard as dodgy within, say 3 degrees of separation, I would have thought was very high. The nature of the connection however is another story. How might they, for example, make a call on the nature/depth of one brother-on-brother relationship versus another etc correlated to the (i) likelihood of security breaches in the event of an appointment; and (ii) the seriousness were such a breach to occur, given the probable consequences. Like most risk management models, inexact science at work.

  • UlsterScotty

    Hasn’t one of our local politicians had some recent trouble with a dodgy sibling? Surely one cannot be one’s brother’s keeper? Or can one?
    Nobody on this site ever judged any individual based on the conduct of a brother.
    Wonder what will be the impact on the fraternal orders?
    Bros before foes, is that the phrase?

  • Battle of the Bogside

    I always enjoy the silence when I pose this idea. Just admit that you are wrong and get over it!

  • you have struck them dumb, keep at it.

  • jim

    thats all it is an idea.i have an idea the ones killed in derry that sunday were gilty yet to be proven otherwise.such is life get over it

  • An applicant aught to have the right to know why they are being denied employment. If it is a genuine security risk there can be no harm in saying who and what the cause of the risk is.

  • Pete Baker


    Well, they have said ‘who’.

    There’s always the possibility that the ‘what’ might reveal the source of the information.

  • Pete Baker

    The first time you replied to me I thought: “that must have hurt!”

    This time I think the ‘what’ may well provide the missing link.

  • Pete Baker


    As I recall you accused me, wrongly I have to say, of attempting to intimidate you.

    Not sure where you’d put a mark on the proposed graph to signify that reaction to a comment.

  • Pete Baker

    I think I must be getting hypersensitive in my old age…

    I would not (point of principal) ‘rate’ anyone. Memory is a funny thing but that reminds me of school!