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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 December 2005, 17:42 GMT
Public needs 'more spy details'
SIr Hugh Orde (left) and Bertie Ahern (right)
Chief constable briefed Bertie Ahern
More information on Northern Ireland spying allegations should be shared with the public, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern has said.

He was speaking after a briefing in Dublin from PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde.

The taoiseach's spokeswoman said the visit "was an indication of the seriousness attached to the case".

Sir Hugh has rejected claims that the raid on Sinn Fein's office at Stormont in 2003 was politically motivated.

"The taoiseach welcomed the fact the chief constable had briefed the Policing Board, and he urged that the maximum possible information be shared with the public," the spokeswoman said.

The general subject of policing in Northern Ireland was discussed as well as continuing progress on full implementation of the Patten Report.

"The primary focus of the governments and the political parties must be the future and the priority of restoring the devolved institutions in 2006," the spokeswoman added.

Sir Hugh left Government Buildings without speaking to waiting reporters.

Ulster Unionist MLA Fred Cobain criticised the chief constable for briefing Mr Ahern, adding that public confidence in the political process was "at its lowest ebb".

"Peter Hain has decided that the people of Northern Ireland should not know the details of Stormontgate and yet, as today's events show, Stormontgate plays such a key part in UK foreign policy that we must update the head of a foreign government," he said.

"Why are questions relating to the public interest here being ignored while the questions of the taoiseach are being answered? This is a truly bizarre situation."

Earlier, there were minor scuffles between noisy Sinn Fein protestors and gardai as the chief constable arrived in Dublin.

Up to 20 republicans with "No Political Policing" placards tried to block Sir Hugh's two-vehicle convoy entering the front gates of Government Buildings, but were held back by up to a dozen uniformed gardai.

Sinn Fein MEP Mary Lou McDonald, who attended Thursday's demonstration, said "securocrats must not be allowed to run amok in Ireland to undermine the peace process".

"They cannot be outside the law. They must understand that very clearly," she said.

Securocrats must not be allowed to run amok in Ireland to undermine the peace process
Mary Lou McDonald
Sinn Fein

Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive collapsed following the arrests of three men, including Denis Donaldson, 55, who had headed the party's administration office at Stormont.

But the case against all three was dropped two weeks ago by the Public Prosecution Service because it was "no longer in the public interest".

Within days, however, Sinn Fein announced it had expelled Mr Donaldson for being a British agent.

He appeared on Irish television and confessed to having been recruited in the 1980s as a paid agent and that he deeply regretted his activities.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has claimed his party was "wrong-footed" and "double crossed" over the on-the-run legislation.

He was speaking at a republican protest against "political policing" outside the headquarters of the Police Service of Northern Ireland in Belfast.

Mr Adams said he had spoken to Mr Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony Blair by telephone on Wednesday.

He said that he told Mr Blair "political policing had to stop".

The on-the-run plans cover up to 150 people wanted for crimes committed before 1998.

They would have their cases heard by a special tribunal and, if found guilty, would be freed on licence without having to go to jail.

Sinn Fein has said the legislation was "far removed" from what had been agreed during 2001 talks with the government at Weston Park.

Earlier this week party vice-president Pat Doherty accused the government of "sleight of hand" in that the law would grant amnesty to security forces members who committed murder during the Troubles.

'Spy papers collapsed assembly'
20 Dec 05 |  Northern Ireland
Hain rejects 'spy' inquiry demand
19 Dec 05 |  Northern Ireland
Sinn Fein man admits he was agent
16 Dec 05 |  Northern Ireland
Sinn Fein expels 'British agent'
16 Dec 05 |  Northern Ireland

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