Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein fury at PSNI watchdog's raid ruling
Verdict on stormont office move 'flawed'

By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent
02 August 2004

Sinn Fein today lambasted the Police Ombudsman's verdict that the raid on republican offices at Stormont almost two years ago, which led to the collapse of devolution, was not politically motivated.

The party's Assembly chief whip Conor Murphy said the long-awaited report from Nuala O'Loan was flawed because it contained no reference to Operation Torsion, the Special Branch exercise which culminated in the raid in October 2002.

On the basis of available intelligence, the Ombudsman said the detective chief superintendent's decision to seek a warrant authorising a search of a specific desk in the Sinn Féin offices was "reasonable, proportionate and legal".

Mrs O'Loan added: "We have not uncovered any evidence that the police decision-making was influenced inappropriately".

Since the raid which outraged republicans, it has been reported that the information which triggered the operation came from a police source deep within the IRA itself.

The DUP said today the confirmation that Sinn Fein were "legitimate targets" for police attention was likely to produce rage within the republican movement.

Assembly member Sammy Wilson said: "Given that the Ombudsman is no friend of the police, the report must be a bad blow for IRA/Sinn Fein which will no doubt claim it is part of the conspiracy against them and call for it to be closed."

Mr Murphy said, however: "The Stormont raid on Sinn Fein's parliamentary offices was planned and

executed by an RUC cartel of political detectives, in the name of the PSNI.

"It was a politically motivated raid with the clear intent to collapse the institutions and undermine the peace process. The Special Branch version of events given to the Ombudsman about the Stormont raid varies from the version offered by the Chief Constable Hugh Orde."

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