Republican News · Thursday 19 August 1999

[An Phoblacht]

Silence from Dáil over British surveillance

SINN FÉIN TD Caoimhghín O Caoláin has questioned the Dáil's lack of action over the revelation that the British state intercepted all international telephone, fax, e-mail and data communications from the 26 Counties throughout the 1990s. The scandal was exposed in a recent Channel 4 television documentary.

``It is highly unlikely,'' said O Caoláin, ``that the authorities in the 26 Counties were not aware that this surveillance was going on.

``It seems they are as embarrassed by the revelations as the British and this accounts for their lack of action and their virtual silence. They are turning a blind eye to the invasion of the privacy of millions of people.''

A two-and-a-half page report of an investigation carried out by the Irish Ambassador to Britain, Ted Barrington, sheds little light on the revelations apart from accepting that it is not British policy to comment on allegations and that Britain would act in its own interests.

O Caoláin added that, despite claims that the surveillance was to counter the activities of republicans and loyalists, ``under the guise of so-called counter-terrorism, the British authorities were also using this facility for industrial espionage''.

The Sinn Féin TD has raised the matter with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and will do so again when the Dáil resumes.

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