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Friday, 5 April, 2002, 12:19 GMT 13:19 UK
Security breach inquiry: Three released
Castlereagh is the PSNI's Belfast headquarters
Castlereagh is the PSNI's Belfast headquarters
Three people arrested on Thursday in connection with an investigation into a security breach at Belfast's main police headquarters have been released without charge.

The arrests had been made in Londonderry and Belfast.

Among those who had been questioned by the police was a former IRA leader in the Maze Prison, Raymond McCartney.

His brother Andrew was also detained, but both were released after a number of hours.

Raymond McCartney
Raymond McCartney: Released without charge

Raymond McCartney said he had absolutely no connection with events in Castlereagh.

"It was apparent the arrest and the nature of the interrogation had nothing to do with Castlereagh," he said.

"I think they're trying to create a smokescreen."

The McCartney families said both of their houses were searched and that the police took away a computer, floppy discs, videos, mobile phones, a number of documents and training shoes.

Six people were arrested as part of the police investigation last weekend.

One of them was later charged with having documents not linked to the Castlereagh incident.

A Special Branch officer was assaulted and documents taken when three men entered an office inside the Castlereagh complex, in Belfast, on 17 March.

The McCartney family and Sinn Fein have rejected accusations that republicans were involved in the breach, claiming it is part of moves by Special Branch to mount a cover-up over the theft documents.

Sinn Fein welcomed the release of the three people arrested.

Protests

About 100 republicans blocked the main Foyle expressway in Londonderry in protest over the searches in the city.

Sinn Fein chairman Mitchel McLaughlin said on Friday that there was no evidence linking the IRA to the theft of the files.


We are talking about police sledge-hammering into homes even when the householder is standing there

Mitchel McLaughlin
Sinn Fein chairman

"We have called on Tony Blair to rein these people in," he said.

"The security services have to put up or shut up."

He added: "People are very, very angry and tensions are high because of the brutality of the arrests.

"We are talking about police sledge-hammering into homes even when the householder is standing there."

On Thursday, after meeting the Northern Ireland Policing Board for the first time on Thursday as acting Northern Ireland chief constable, Colin Cramphorn refused to go into detail about the investigation while inquiries continue.

But he added: "I understand many people are expressing a level of concern and a level of cynicism about the turn of events.

"I will as soon as I can seek to address these both with members of the board and the public."

The Castlereagh breach occurred in an office which was used as a "link-point" for security force informers and their police handlers.

Two separate investigations into the incident are taking place - the police's own and an inquiry by former senior civil servant Sir John Chilcot who will report directly to Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin:
"This is a serious attempt to divert attention"
See also:

03 Apr 02 | Northern Ireland
US move in security breach inquiry
20 Mar 02 | Northern Ireland
Police security breach review heads
20 Mar 02 | Northern Ireland
Security breach inquiries 'damaging'
20 Mar 02 | Northern Ireland
Informers: A dangerous assignment
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