More than 50 people have been told that their lives are in danger after it emerged that unionist paramilitaries have been given a top-level British Army intelligence dossier on leading republicans.

Sinn Féin confirmed last night that the PSNI police visited the homes of people in the Short Strand area of east Belfast whose names and dates of birth were on the document.

The document in question was stolen last year from the joint British Army/police base in Belfast’s Castlereagh complex. The British government admitted last July that it believed the document had disappeared some weeks earlier in a “breach of internal security”.

The UDA was later reported to be in possession of the file after it was handed to them by a member of the Royal Irish Regiment. The RIR has a long history of collusion with unionist paramilitaries.

A British Army officer admitted last night that the document was of a type used to allow their forces to “monitor terrorism suspects”.

South Belfast MLA Alex Maskey said the scale of the warnings was unprecedented in recent years.

“This development is clearly of concern to the people involved directly, their families and the wider community in the Short Strand,” Mr Maskey said.

“It has been well over a decade since such a large number of republicans were visited in an operation like this in the city.

“The people visited were told that their date of birth were part of the documentation indicating that the source of the information is some official or statutory body.

“There is now an onus on local unionist political leaders and unionist community leaders to speak out against these threats and let the small nationalist and republican community in East Belfast know where they stand on this issue.”

The development has cast new light on a previous ‘break-in’ at the same complex in March 2002. After initially blaming Crown force insiders for taking sensitive documents, the PSNI subsequently blamed the IRA.

The allegations were firmly denied by republicans, but caused upheaval for the peace process. No-one was ever charged over the affair.


At the weekend, the UDA has hinted it may end its activities following the Provisional IRA’s decision to end its armed struggle.

In a statement read out to supporters at a Remembrance Day ceremony in its Rathcoole stronghold in the outskirts of Belfast, the UDA said it wants to discuss its future with the British government.

The statement, read out by Tommy Kirkham of the UDA-linked Ulster Political Research Group, was welcomed by the British government but greeted with scepticism by nationalists.

A spokesman for the UDA later said they intended meeting the British government in the near future with a “shopping list” of demands.

The man said to be the UDA’s north Belfast ‘brigadier’, Andre ‘The Greek’ Shoukri appeared in court last week on a string of charges.

His arrest is said to have complicated reported plans by the UDA to meet the international arms body to discuss weapons decommissioning.

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© 2005 Irish Republican News