Tony Blair’s declaration that MI5 will operate completely separate from police in the North is a major step towards forcing the security service out north and south of the border, Sinn Féin claimed today.
After the British Prime Minister issued a statement on how the new security arrangements would affect the North, emphasising clear division between the agencies, Gerry Adams’s party described it as a major success for its negotiations.
It claimed intense talks with the British government over the past few weeks had led to the reversal of the planned integration of MI5 and the PSNI.
With Sinn Féin and Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party involved in a tense stand-off over demands for republicans to support the force in the North in return for guarantees that a power-sharing administration will be reformed at Stormont, the role of the security services has become crucial.
Sinn Féin’s policing and justice spokesman Gerry Kelly claimed Mr Blair’s statement protected local policing from the “malign and corruptive control of MI5”.
He added: “What we have achieved in this is that MI5 will have no part in policing in the North.
“The whole issue of MI5, and these security services are also in the south of Ireland, is that if they act illegally then we have a PSNI which is not signed up to MI5 and which will hold them to account.
“We want MI5 out of Ireland, there’s no place for it north or south. This gets us a very major step closer to that.
“But we have never argued that the battle is over.”