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Last Updated: Monday, 12 December 2005, 22:52 GMT
No statement on 'spy' case: Hain
Peter Hain
Peter Hain sees no need for a parliamentary statement on 'spy' case
Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain has said he sees no reason for a parliamentary statement on the collapse of the Stormont "spy ring" case.

Unionists have demanded that Mr Hain or Attorney General Lord Goldsmith should clarify what public interest reasons led to the dropping of charges.

Three men were accused of involvement in an IRA spying operation.

The three were found not guilty last week, and on Monday, Mr Hain said what happened in court was clear enough.

He said it was now time to "draw a line under that point".

However, DUP leader Ian Paisley said it was outrageous that parliament was being "muzzled".

"I shall be in parliament this week and we will have a statement from somebody," Mr Paisley said.

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey also said his party would not drop the issue.

"It's not good enough and as far as we're concerned there will be parliamentary questions and we want an inquiry into what happened."

But Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said it was time to move on.

"I would prefer rather than to pick through the entrails of this to look forward to next year."

Mr Hain also said that elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2007 would be damaging to democracy if they took place in the absence of power-sharing.

"The public will not tolerate a situation where we go through a second assembly election in May 2007 to an assembly that does not exist, that is suspended.

"The public are paying assembly members' salaries and it is corroding democracy to go through this constant - for the second time - election to an organisation that does not exist."

Charges

At the weekend, Mr Hain said there was no political interference in the decision to drop the Stormont case charges.

The arrests in October 2002 led to the collapse of the power-sharing assembly.

Mr Hain said the idea the DPP could be influenced by any minister was "preposterous".

"This was a decision for the director of public prosecutions exclusively: as an independent Northern Ireland prosecution service they took that decision," he said.

Police raid on Stormont
Police raided Sinn Fein offices at Stormont in October 2002
Speaking to the BBC's Politics Show, Mr Hain dismissed various conspiracy theories about why the charges were dropped.

"Any republicans seeking, as some have done, to present the prosecution as some kind of gigantic conspiracy by so-called securocrats or politicians are 100% wrong," he said.

"Just as any unionists who have suggested in recent days that this is a big plot by myself as secretary of state or the government in one guise or other to cover up on behalf of republicans are equally wrong. Both versions are preposterous."

The three men 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.

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

The Public Prosecution Service would not clarify what it regarded as the nature of the public interest which led to the charges being dropped.


SEE ALSO:
DUP chase 'Stormontgate' answers
10 Dec 05 |  Northern Ireland
'Spy' trio held 'to save Trimble'
09 Dec 05 |  Northern Ireland
Stormont conspiracy theories continue
08 Dec 05 |  Northern Ireland
'Stormont spying' case collapses
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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