[Sinn Fein]

29th November 2001

Special Branch - Secret Police

Speaking at a press conference in Belfast this morning Sinn Fein Assembly member Alex Maskey said:

``This week's collapse of the Pat Finucane murder trial raises many questions surrounding the role of the RUC Special Branch.

``William Stobie admits he supplied the weapons used to kill Pat Finucane. He also admits that he was an RUC Special Branch agent at the time. He admits that he informed the RUC Special Branch that the attack was going to take place yet they chose not to act. He also admits that he remained in his position in the UDA until at least 1990.

``In that time the UDA, in William Stobie's area of the city killed six people:

``The role of the RUC Special Branch in collusion and the running of agents within the loyalist death squads has not been explained. Cover up is still the order of the day. The RUC Special Branch is, in the words of the Patten Commission, the force within a force. In light of the Stobie case questions need to be answered.

``Are Stobie's handlers now members of the new policing arrangements? What did the Special Branchy know about these killings?

``The reality is that the Special Branch still exists and exists as a Secret Police force.

``What is needed now are judicial inquiries into those killings where families believe collusion took place.

``What is needed is for politicians to support the families and their efforts to establish the truth.

``The fact is that nationalists and republicans will not support policing arrangements with an unaccountable wing, a Special Branch, governed by a culture of silence and operating with no controls, accountability or scrutiny. Patten recognised this and the British government must now move to recognise this also.''

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