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UIster Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson
The Government are abusing their power for political purposes
 real 28k

Monday, 5 February, 2001, 10:33 GMT
MP repeats bugging allegation
Jeffrey Donaldson ( right) with party leader David Trimble
Jeffrey Donaldson (right) with party leader David Trimble
A hardline Ulster Unionist MP has repeated allegations that his telephone was bugged by army intelligence agents.

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson said he was told by an RUC officer that British Army intelligence was tapping his telephone.

This is the second time Mr Donaldson has made an allegation that his line was being tapped. He made a similar claim last September.

The Northern Ireland Office has refused to comment on both claims.

Mr Donaldson MP has again expressed concern about reports that his calls are being monitored, as the UUP's officers prepare to meet this weekend to review policy on continuing in the powersharing executive in the absence of paramilitary decommissioning.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster on Monday, the anti-Good Friday Agreement MP said he had been informed that the surveillance had been in place since 1999.

He said telephones, mobile phones and meetings began to be monitored then, when the Ulster Unionist Party's ruling council had its first meeting to decide whether to back power-sharing with Sinn Fein.

"Apparently the purpose of this surveillance was to try and second guess the tactics being used by those senior party members at the UUC," he said.


The security forces in the past have placed surveillance on people they believe may be engaged in or supporting terrorism

Jeffrey Donaldson
"It is clear to me that the government is abusing the power that it has to engage in surveillance for purely party political purposes."

Mr Donaldson said he believed the information gathered in the tapping operation was being used by the government to "undermine the views of those of us who have expressed concerns about the way in which Tony Blair has been implementing the Belfast Agreement and has broken his pledges to the people of Northern Ireland".

In response to a question about his attitude to claims by Sinn Fein members that they were being bugged, Mr Donaldson said there was a "clear distinction".

Meeting

"The security forces in the past have placed surveillance on people they believe may be engaged in or supporting terrorism.

"There is absolutely no linkage here between the activities and views of MPs and senior party officers in the UUP and members of party linked to a terrorist organisation like Sinn Fein/IRA."

He said he would not have known for it except members of the RUC had gained knowledge about the operation and expressed concern that resources were not being targeted at combating terrorism and were instead being used for party political purposes.

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See also:

23 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
MP claims phone was bugged
24 Mar 00 | Northern Ireland
Sinn Fein anger over bug find
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