Wednesday, 2 February 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
195. Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has discussed with the British Prime Minister the jailing of a person (details supplied) in the context of the Bloody Sunday tribunal; if he has called for this person’s release; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2612/05]
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): While my officials have been examining this case, I do not propose to comment on its particular circumstances. The person concerned has been convicted of contempt of court. My officials have, however, met with representatives of the Bloody Sunday Trust and are aware of their deep concern. I understand that the individual concerned is not currently looking to appeal the conviction.
196. Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has raised with the British Prime Minister the recent admission by a person (details supplied) that they had planted electronic listening devices in the offices of Sinn Féin at Connolly House, Belfast; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2613/05]
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): The incident to which the Deputy refers was initially raised by the Government with the British authorities through the British-Irish intergovernmental secretariat in Belfast in September 2004 at the time the listening device was discovered. I also understand that the leader of the Deputy’s party presented the electronic device in question to the British Prime Minister Mr. Blair at the negotiations in Leeds Castle in September 2004. The Deputy’s party leadership will have had an opportunity to discuss the issue directly with the British Prime Minister on that occasion.
In view of the additional information which has recently come to light, the Government has again raised the issue with the British authorities. The British side has replied that irrespective of the allegations in the press, it will not make any comment on the matter. The Government has consistently argued for greater accountability for all intelligence agencies in Northern Ireland and has drawn attention to the potential role of the policing board in this regard. With regard to the intelligence activity of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the oversight commissioner, Mr. Al Hutchinson, stated in his latest report, published in December 2004, that positive progress had taken place in achieving all the changes recommended by the Independent Commission on Policing and the further changes recommended by the Blakely, Crompton and Stevens reports.
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