MI5 gets millions to fight republicans

Over 20% of the financial resources of British military intelligence is being used to battle irish republicanism, it has emerged.

The amount, about 60 million Euros, raised eyebrows when it was revealed in budget proposals.

The MI5 spending in the north comes despite the Provisional IRA’s announcement last year that it had deposed of all its weaponry and ended its armed campaign.

Meanwhile, the breakaway ‘Real IRA’ is largely quiescent while the armed actions of the Continuity IRA are seen as providing only a token resistance.

Nevertheless, the latest budget proposals will double MI5s resources to tackle republican activity.

SDLP assembly member for North Belfast Alban Maginness said: “There seems to be a disproportionate amount with regard to the threat from Irish republicanism.

“It seems to me that the level of threat is exaggerated and one has to question why there is such a large amount of funding.”

Next year the service will take charge of intelligence gathering in the North. As part of its expansion MI5 will have a new base at Palace British army barracks in Holywood, County Down.

The role of MI5 will go beyond the reach of the minister for justice, the Police Ombudsman, the Policing Board or any elected representative.

In March it was confirmed that MI5 did not pass on a warning they received about the 1998 Omagh bomb, which killed 29 people. The head of M15 has refused to meet with the Omagh families to discuss their concerns.

“So much for accountability. So much for sharing of intelligence. So much for the protection of the public against terrorism,” said SDLP leader Mark Durkan.

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© 2006 Irish Republican News