The arrest of Sinn Féin assembly member Francie Brolly in connection with the 1972 Claudy bomb investigation has provoked immense anger.

One of Sinn Féin’s most prominent figures in the north west, Mr Brolly gave up his council seat when he was elected to the assembly for East Derry. A lifelong nationalist, Mr Brolly was interned in 1971.

Mr Brolly, along with freelance GAA writer Seamus Mullan, both of whom are from Dungiven, County Derry, were arrested at their homes early yesterday by heavily armed PSNI members.

Two other people from Portglenone and Dungannon in County Tyrone were also arrested.

All four are being held at Antrim police station where they are being questioned.

Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness has described the arrest of Francie Brolly as ‘one of the most blatant examples of political policing seen here in recent times’.

“As has become the norm with this type of political policing selected media outlets were briefed about the identities of those arrested,” he said.

“Francie Brolly is an elected representative and a key participant in the peace process. His arrest is completely motivated by an anti-peace process and anti-Sinn Féin agenda operating at the heart of the Special Branch.

“Sinn Féin are demanding the immediate release of Francie Brolly and we will be raising this issue with both the British and Irish governments.”

In a surprising development last year, the British government was accused of colluding with the Catholic church to prevent the truth of the bombing from emerging. One of those accused of being involved in the bomb attack was a Catholic priest, Fr James Chesney.

Mr Brolly’s wife Anne, while mayor of Limavady council, backed a call for a public inquiry into the bombing which was also supported by her husband.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said: “The man should be released forthwith.

“In terms of all the progress made across the remit of the Good Friday Agreement, there sill remains within the PSNI, that hardcore of old Special Branch people who have a grudge and are anti this peace process.”

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© 2005 Irish Republican News