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Sunday, 21 April, 2002, 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK
IRA says ceasefire intact
Castlereagh is the PSNI's Belfast headquarters
Castlereagh is the PSNI's Belfast headquarters
The IRA has told the BBC that its ceasefire remains intact and that it is not targeting politicians.

A senior IRA source said the organisation did not carry out the break-in at the Castlereagh police complex in Belfast.

The spokesman, a representative of the IRA leadership, said the group posed no threat to the peace process.

BBC Northern Ireland's chief security correspondent Brian Rowan said: "He pointed to the two recent acts of decommissioning carried out, he said, to save the peace process.

It is three weeks on now, but there is no intelligence we have been getting from anywhere that indicated it was republicans involved

Bertie Ahern
Irish Prime Minister

"The source said the IRA did not carry out the Castlereagh robbery and blamed the break-in on some section of British intelligence.

"He said arrests and raids in republican areas were part of a smokescreen.

"The source said the IRA's record was clear - it was no threat to the peace process."

Responding to the IRA statement, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said: "Down the years... when they say they are involved in something or they are not involved in something - however horrific - it is usually factual."

He added: "But it does lead to the fundamental question - eight years on, what is the necessity of having a well-trained, drilled army that still has a huge amount of arms?"

However, Mr Ahern said the situation was "quite extraordinary".

"The republican movement have been saying from the start that they had no involvement in this.

"It is three weeks on now, but there is no intelligence that we have been getting from anywhere that indicated that it was republicans involved in it."


On Saturday, Ulster Unionists said they would not impose sanctions on Sinn Fein until more information is gathered on the seizure of IRA intelligence files.

Party leader David Trimble said if the IRA was responsible for last month's break-in at Castlereagh it would be viewed as a breach of its ceasefire.

David Trimble
David Trimble: "This would be a breach of the ceasefire"

IRA intelligence files containing the names of senior Conservative politicians and British army bases were discovered during raids by police.

They are investigating the theft of sensitive security force documents from Special Branch offices at Castlereagh.

Mr Trimble said a measured assessment of events was needed to be made before the Ulster Unionists would consider sanctions against Sinn Fein.

"We are certainly at what might become a defining moment in the peace process," he said.

"What we need to hear from the police is precisely what is it about what they found that they regard as being sinister and what does it point towards."

The Ulster Unionist Party ruling executive agreed a motion on Friday evening pledging "further action" on the find.

The chief culprits in the present controversy are the failed and faceless manipulators in the Special Branch and British Intelligence services

Gerry Adams
Sinn Fein

The party's assembly members met on Saturday to discuss the matter.

Security sources have told the BBC they believe the files show that the IRA had been involved in gathering intelligence on the people named in the past few weeks.

Intelligence gathering

It is understood none of the Special Branch files stolen from Castlereagh were found in the raids in republican areas.

But the police have maintained that IRA involvement in the security breach at Castlereagh is one of the main lines of inquiry they are pursuing.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said there were "sustained efforts to create an entirely contrived crisis in the peace process".

Mr Adams said: "There is an agenda that is being orchestrated by elements within the British system. This is about undermining the peace process."

Acting chief constable Colin Cramphorn said he had no information to suggest that the IRA intended to resume violence.

BBC NI's Brian Rowan
"The source said the IRA did not carry out the Castlereagh robbery"
The BBC's Denis Murray
"The IRA said police raids and arrests in republican areas were a smoke screen"
BBC NI's Brian Rowan:
"The source said the IRA's record was clear"
See also:

19 Apr 02 | Northern Ireland
IRA files 'list Tory members'
19 Apr 02 | Northern Ireland
Analysis: Story behind the break-in
07 Apr 02 | Northern Ireland
Security upgrade a 'smokescreen'
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
06 Apr 02 | Northern Ireland
Officers warned of greater terror risk
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