[Sinn Fein]

13th December 2001

Adams raises collusion, policing and demilitarisation with Tony Blair

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP speaking in London today before Sinn Fein's meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Mr. Adams said:

``While it was always our intention to use this afternoon's meeting with Mr. Blair to focus on the issues of collusion, policing and demilitarisation, the events of recent weeks, including the acquittal of Special Branch agent William Stobie of the killing of Pat Finucane, Mr. Stobie's murder yesterday, and the report of the Ombudsman yesterday into the Omagh bombing, have all brought an added urgency to our discussions.

``It is totally unacceptable that the British government has yet to respond adequately to the serious matters raised in the Ombudsman's report, especially in relation to how the Chief Constable and the Special Branch dealt with the Omagh bombing, including the investigation into this atrocity and the efforts to frustrate the Ombudsman's inquiries into it.

``The reason for this is clear. Ronnie Flanagan was acting within the power given to him by this British government under the Peter Mandelson Policing Legislation. The British government provided the Chief Constable with the power, under the new policing arrangements, to refuse crucial information to the Policing Board and clearly he believes he can refuse to co-operate with both the Ombudsman and the Oversight Commissioner, both of whom have complained recently about the Special Branch's refusal to co-operate.

``I know that all of these recent revelations have caused great difficulties to all of the families of the Omagh victims as well as to the families of the other victims. ``They have also highlighted once again the serious flaws in the current policing arrangements. There is an urgent need to correct these. The Police Force should not be above transparent and democratic accountability. The respective powers of the Policing Board, the Chief Constable and the British Secretary of State have to be changed to bring them into line with the Good Friday Agreement.

``As you know Sinn Fein does not participate in the current policing arrangements. I believe our decision not to support these arrangements at this time has been vindicated and I reiterate my view that nationalists or republicans should not support the policing arrangements until the terms for this are in line with the Good Friday Agreement.

``We will be seeking to persuade the British government that now is the time to get this right, we have continued with our discussions on these matters with both governments. If Mr. Blair or Dr. Reid are to have any credibility on these issues then they should bring forward amending legislation as soon as possible, end partisan political control of policing and bring it back to the Good Friday Agreement.

``The British government also needs to face up to the scale of the dirty tricks operations of its agencies in Ireland. We have consistently raised the Brian Nelson affair and we will do so again today.

``Mr. Blair did the right thing when he established the Saville inquiry into the killings on Bloody Sunday in Derry, even though public confidence in that inquiry has suffered as a result of obstruction and interference by the British MoD.

``But the British government has stubbornly refused to establish an independent, judicial, public and international inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane and it has failed to co-operate with the inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. These are matters which Sinn Fein continues to pursue.''

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