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Last Updated: Friday, 9 December 2005, 13:47 GMT
'Spy' trio held 'to save Trimble'
Denis Donaldson
Denis Donaldson said the charges were "politically motivated"
A man cleared of charges linked to an alleged IRA spy ring at Stormont has said he was arrested in a campaign to save David Trimble's political career.

Sinn Fein's Denis Donaldson, son-in-law Ciaran Kearney along with William Mackessy had a total of seven charges against them dropped on Thursday.

Mr Donaldson said his charges were dropped due to the prosecution's "self interest". He may now sue the police.

Irish PM Bertie Ahern said the affair caused him and Tony Blair "huge grief".

"It was a lot of grief for no prosecutions," he told reporters after meeting Mr Blair at Downing Street.

The three men at the centre of the case returned to Stormont on Friday in the company of leading Sinn Fein officials, including party leader Gerry Adams.

Mr Donaldson said there had been no spy ring and the charges were "politically-inspired".

"There was no spy ring at Stormont. There never was," he said.

"The fact that the media was here on the morning that our offices (at Stormont) was raided testifies to that.

"It was part of a Save Dave (Trimble) campaign initially and it was also designed to bring down the (power-sharing) institutions, which it did."

The three were arrested following a police raid on Sinn Fein's offices at Parliament Buildings on 4 October 2002, when documents and computer discs were seized.

Police raid on Stormont
Police raided Sinn Fein offices at Stormont

The arrests led to the power-sharing executive at Stormont being suspended, after the DUP and Ulster Unionists, led at that time by Mr Trimble, threatened to collapse the executive with resignations.

Mr Donaldson, who was Sinn Fein's head of administration at Stormont, and Mr Kearney were subsequently accused of having documents likely to be of use to terrorists.

Mr Mackessy was charged with collecting information on the security forces.

However, at an unlisted hearing at Belfast Crown Court, the three were told all charges were being dropped after the prosecution offered no evidence "in the public interest".

Mr Donaldson said they were now consulting legal representatives about what course of action they could follow in connection with the arrests.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said the collapse of the case once again underlined the need to "face up" to elements within the PSNI who, he claimed, were opposed to political progress.

He said: "The raid on this building, the raid on the Sinn Fein offices, was conducted in a glare of publicity.

'No comment'

"I think that has very clearly become a pattern, a pattern of political policing.

"Our certain view, and we said this at the time, is that there are elements within the Special Branch, within the old RUC, some of whom are active today in the PSNI, who continue to be at war with Irish republicans, who are opposed to the peace process."

The SDLP's Alex Attwood said his party was seeking a meeting with the Attorney General.

Mr Attwood said he had received no explanation from the Public Prosecution Service and senior PSNI officers in meetings with them on Friday.

He said his party had worked hard to restore confidence in policing in Northern Ireland and would not rest until reasons were given.

"What were the factors that gave rise to the decision? Was there an effort being made to protect individuals either in the British government or acting on behalf of the British state in order for these charges to go away?" he said.

The Public Prosecution Service said it would be making no further statement in relation to the decision to drop the charges.

A spokesman would not respond to allegations that the service had bowed to political pressure.

He would not clarify what it regarded as the nature of the public interest which led to the charges being dropped.

Stormont conspiracy theories continue
08 Dec 05 |  Northern Ireland
Police raid Sinn Fein offices
04 Oct 02 |  Northern Ireland
Stormont raid 'not political'
02 Aug 04 |  Northern Ireland

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