“The agency’s investigation has produced evidence of what might be characterised as a lawless lifestyle”

The BBC reports the delayed start of the Serious Organised Crime Agency’s [SOCA] application for a civil recovery order of property and assets belonging to Seamus Francis Mullan. A former member of the Provisional IRA who was serving a life imprisonment sentence for the 1985 murder of an off-duty RUC officer before being freed on early release licence in 1998, Mullan was arrested in 2006 on money laundering and fraud charges – at the time he was described in court as a “disaffected republican”. Subsequently, the …

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“This is a read-back into the so-called ‘dirty war’…”

In yesterday’s Belfast Telegraph, Brian Rowan attempted to explained the thinking behind Sinn Féin’s expressed concerns about the “Dark Side”  [It’s “a sound working partnership and one that is to be commended” – Ed]  Indeed.  From the Belfast Telegraph article …this is not a row for the sake of being awkward.  It is a serious attempt to engage Matt Baggott sooner rather than later. I think it would be fair to say that a degree of briefing was involved in …

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PSNI & Security Service [MI5]: “a sound working partnership and one that is to be commended”

The Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, has “received and welcomed a report from Lord Carlile of Berriew on the operation of arrangements for handling national security matters in Northern Ireland for the year to date.”  But he’ll not be publishing it “given its sensitive nature”.  From the NI Secretary of State’s statement The report points out that there have been serious incidents during 2011, including the murder of P.C Ronan Kerr in Omagh in April and states that the …

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“Shaun Woodward ordered his recall on the basis of what his legal team have described as ‘closed material’.”

The BBC reports that Martin Corey has been “granted leave to seek a judicial review of the decision to revoke his licence over unspecified allegations that he was involved with dissident republicans.” The 61-year-old from Lurgan, County Armagh had been released on licence in 1992, having served 19 years of a life sentence for the murder of two RUC officers. In April last year, then Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Shaun Woodward, as the BBC report notes, “ordered his recall on the …

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“Something, Something, Something, Dark Side…”

The last time Sinn Féin wheeled out little known placeman, and non-public representative, Declan Kearney, in November 2009, the party was trying desperately to raise the stakes over the devolution of policing and justice powers – while muttering about “the NIO spooks and PSNI’s political detectives“.  What he’s doing out of his box again is anyone’s guess…  ANYhoo, here’s the script this time Sinn Fein’s support for democratically accountable policing is unambiguous, but it is not unconditional.  We have repeatedly said that our Party …

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“His willingness to attend a Sinn Féin ard fheis sometime next year will not resolve this…”

In the Belfast Telegraph Liam Clarke notes Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly’s ‘lukewarm’ response to Chief Constable Matt Baggott’s generous offer to speak at the next SF ard fheis.  From the Belfast Telegraph article Gerry Kelly, the party’s policing spokesman, said: “While it is an interesting suggestion, and presumably the party will give it due consideration, the ard fheis is not until next May, so it’s far too early to suggest who will be invited.” ….. Mr Kelly amplified his criticism …

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Michael Campbell sentenced to 12 years after MI5 sting operation

After a two year trial in Lithuania, suspected Real IRA member Michael Campbell, 39, from County Louth, has been found guilty of supporting a terrorist group, illegal possession of weapons and attempted weapons smuggling and has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.  He was arrested in Lithuania in January 2008 as a result of an MI5 sting operation, working alongside Lithuanian authorities, against republican terrorist groups.  From the Guardian report Michael Campbell was jailed for 12 years by a judge …

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Quote of the day: “Isn’t this where you used to meet Gerry Adams?”

From David Hare’s spy drama Page Eight, broadcast tonight on BBC2.  A senior MI5 officer, Johnny Worricker, played by Bill Nighy, is investigating the sudden death of his close friend, and Director General of MI5, Benedict Baron [Michael Gambon].  In the aftermath of the death, a journalist, Rollo Maverley [Ewen Bremner], who is also an MI5 operative paid to release information into the public domain, arranges a meeting at an anonymous motorway diner.  The following exchange takes place. [Johnny Worricker]: ” A ‘Road House’?  Rather a come-down isn’t it? …

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“what now on those big questions on arms and on the past?”

In the Belfast Telegraph, Brian Rowan with a reminder of some unfinished business.   The publication of the two reports he mentions was postponed, before the elections, until “a date to be agreed by both Governments”.  From the Belfast Telegraph article At an event at Queen’s University recently, I said there won’t be a truth process here. There may be something dressed up as such a process, but it won’t be about truth and the many hidden secrets of war. Governments don’t want it, the security …

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MoD apply for improved security at MI5’s NI headquarters

Increased security measures are already in place at potential terrorist targets in Londonderry.  The BBC are now reporting that the Ministry of Defence have applied for planning permission to improve security measures at the entrance to Palace Barracks in Holywood – site of MI5’s Northern Ireland headquarters. From the BBC report The application, filed earlier this month, is for a security building, the reconfiguration of site access and road layout and a search bay. Palace Barracks houses MI5’s Northern Ireland …

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Arrest in Denis Donaldson murder probe?

Previously adjourned, for the fifth time, in August last year, the inquest into the 2006 death of former senior Sinn Féin figure Denis Donaldson was adjourned again in January ahead of a further pre-inquest hearing on May 5. Now the BBC are reporting that a 70-year-old man has been arrested and is being questioned in Letterkenny Garda station, County Donegal.   As RTÉ notes, the man is being detained “on suspicion of withholding information”.  He can be held for three days. Responsibility for Donaldson’s murder was claimed …

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“If it turns out that the explosives found were Semtex…”

In a major police operation on the eve of Constable Ronan Kerr’s funeral the PSNI seized a quantity of weapons and explosives in Coalisland, County Tyrone – which they have described as “the most significant in recent years”.  Which was interesting timing… There have been two arrests in connection with Constable Kerr’s murder and further searches in the north Dublin area. From the BBC report The arms found were: • Four Kalashnikov rifles • Six loaded ammunition magazines • Timer power …

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Denis Donaldson inquest adjourned again – redux – redux

Previously adjourned, for the fifth time, in August last year, the Irish News reports that the inquest into the 2006 death of former senior Sinn Féin figure Denis Donaldson has been adjourned again – a further pre-inquest hearing will be held on May 5.  From the Irish News report It is understood a key witness in the investigation has been taken into protective custody after allegedly revealing where the gun used to kill Mr Donaldson was buried. The coroner told [Garda Superintendent Michael …

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7/7 ruling sets wider disclosure limits for MI5. What’s left of secrecy?

MI5 officers are now appearing in court almost as matter of course,  if sometimes behind screens. The courts are becoming less and less impressed by the claims of secrecy. What criteria are judges applying in striking a balance between the competing  needs of security and disclosure? Where will it all end? Isn’t some of statement of principles needed? Lady Justice Hallett, the judge sitting as a corner at the victims’ inquest, rejected an attempt by lawyers for MI5 to hold …

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“We are raising this case now with David Ford Justice Minister, Mr Chris Smith US Congress, the Irish Government, all interested non-governmental offices and civil liberties organisations, local political parties here and with the Court Service”

Apologies for the length of the post title, but I wanted to make sure I had included everyone…  A 25-year-old Queen’s University politics guaduate walked free from Belfast Crown Court today after the prosecution offered no evidence on charges relating to the fire-bombing of Toys R Us Boucher Road store on 1 November 2006.  There had been a series of fire-bomb attacks at the time.  Since then, the circumstances of those “micro-organisations” appear to have changed… As the UTV report reveals, it’s not necessarily the end of the …

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PSNI lobby for more than £200m of special funding from the Treasury reserve

The Irish government is commited to providing adequate resources to tackle the continuing republican paramilitary threat.  The Garda Commissioner agrees with the assessment of the Home Secretary, Theresa May, that that threat has increased.  And with the research telling us “that concepts of the renegade groups as something ‘other’ are too simplistic”, the BBC’s Vincent Kearney reports that the PSNI Chief Constable, Matt Baggott, has been lobbying for access to “more than £200m of special funding from the treasury reserve during the …

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Garda Commissioner agrees with MI5 assessment

As RTÉ reports  Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy has said that he believes an attack by dissident republicans in Britain is a strong possibility. Commissioner Murphy said he agreed with the assessment of the British Home Secretary and the head of MI5 in the UK that the level of threat from dissident republicans was now moderate to substantial. He also said that while the intent has always been there, the capability within groups such as the Continuity IRA, the Real IRA …

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Threat level to Great Britain from Irish-related terrorism raised from ‘moderate’ to ‘substantial’

As iol reports, the UK Home Secretary, Theresa May, has stated that “The director-general of the Security Service has informed me that he has raised the threat to Great Britain from Irish-related terrorism from moderate to substantial, meaning that an attack is a strong possibility.” As the statement notes The Security Service has raised the threat level from moderate to substantial. This means an Irish-related terrorist attack is a strong possibility. The system of threat levels aims to keep you …

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MI5: “We have seen a persistent rise in terrorist activity and ambition in Northern Ireland over the last three years”

The Irish Times has some interesting quotes from the head of MI5, Jonathan Evans.  Worth looking back in the Slugger archive for a reminder of his optimism in 2007.  And checking more recently on what the Real IRA had to say.  From the Irish Times report Mr Evans said the assumption in 2007 was that the residual threat from terrorism in Northern Ireland was low and likely to decline further as time went on and as the new constitutional arrangements under the …

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By playing politics, local parties show they are not ready to deal with serious security threats

 Is SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie right? “There is no evidence that MI5 puts a high priority on the dissident threat beyond providing some signals and background intelligence, which may amount to nothing more than listening to gossip and monitoring a few dodgy websites,” Yet this case is  one of several  that show MI5 have a reach that the PSNI by itself can hardly match. And arrests after the Strand Road bomb while not of course conclusive, have been  pretty prompt. …

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