Irish Republican News · December 15, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
‘Bogusgate’ row rumbles on

The row over the collapse of charges against three men accused of operating an “IRA spy ring” at the Belfast Assembly has continued following the refusal of the British Direct Ruler Peter Hain to make a statement on the matter.

Mr Hain insisted he did not see any reason to make a further statement on the issue and there were also no plans for the attorney general to make a statement.

The cases arose out of a hugely high-profile raid and arrest operation at the Stormont parliament buildings in 2002, leading ultimately to the collapse of the political institutions set up under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Last week, the charges were suddenly dropped when the attorney general said “it was no longer in the public interest” to pursue the case.

Republicans reacted with outrage at the inevitable collapse of a stage-managed political operation designed by the PSNI police’s notorious Special Branch.

Unionists, meanwhile, claimed the British government had cut a secret deal to prevent the prosecutions going ahead. The nationalist SDLP joined the unionist parties in criticising Mr Hain for failing to answer questions on the matter at the British parliament.

Mr Hain said that whatever “the excitement and hullabaloo around this”, the judiciary had spoken as an independent body free of influence from any political quarter.

“And I think we should just draw a line under that, at that point, and accept it. I see no reason for any further statement,” he said.

However, nationalists were angered when he claimed that his government would have preferred to “bring the men to justice”.

Kevin Winters, who represents Ciaran Kearney, said he had requested a transcript of the BBC interview with the secretary of state at the weekend when he made the statement.

“The courts found my client and the other two men innocent of all charges. Yet within hours we had a PSNI statement full of innuendo insinuating that these three men were still guilty,” Mr Winters said.

“On Sunday we have the entirely offensive comments from Mr Hain which again completely ignore the fact that these men were found not guilty by the courts.

“My client reiterates his total innocence and has instructed me to initiate legal proceedings against anyone who attempts to impugne his good name.”

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said the men involved “would have preferred it had gone to trial”.

“We need to be dealing with the consequences of what very, very obviously was a dirty tricks operation by elements of the old RUC Special Branch and the consequences were that a government [Stormont] fell and the political institutions have not been put back in place,” he said.

“I would prefer, rather than pick through the entrails of all of this, to look forward to the new year and be part of creating the conditions where those political institutions are brought back again.”

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© 2005 Irish Republican News