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Thursday, November 4, 1999 Published at 13:06 GMT

UK: Northern Ireland

Sinn Fein collusion claim

Documents contained photos, names and addresses

Sinn Fein assemblyman Gerry Kelly has called on the Security Minister Adam Ingram to reveal the contents of military documents found during a raid on an Orange hall in County Antrim.

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Six men are being questioned after the documents, said to contain details about more than 300 republicans, were seized on Wednesday.

The files were recovered by Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers involved in a major crackdown against dissident loyalists opposed to the current peace process.

Photographs, addresses, telephone numbers and other personal details of republicans - all from south Armagh and the greater Belfast areas - were contained in the documents.

Mr Kelly said: "I assume that if this is British Army documentation, then it is dangerous in loyalist hands.

BBC NI Security Correspondent Brian Rowan: "Loyalist dissidents have been behind a series of attacks in recent months"
"The collusion between the British forces and loyalist paramiliaries is well documented," he said.

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Peter Mandelson has congratulated the RUC on recent successes against loyalist dissidents.

Mr Mandelson wrote to the RUC Chief Constable, Sir Ronnie Flanagan after a number of raids uncovered weapons and what are believed to be anti-terrorist intelligence files.

He said: "I have no doubt that this action has averted injury and possibly death."

The documents seized in the County Antrim Orange hall are believed to have been in the possession of senior members of the Orange Volunteer Force, a breakaway paramilitary group linked to a string of sectarian pipe bomb attacks on Catholic families.

Provincewide investigation

The six being questioned are from Antrim, Glenavy and Stoneyford, all County Antrim, and Maghera in County Londonderry.

At least two others, one a former prison officer and the other a woman schoolteacher, were also held for a time before being freed without charge.

The arrests are part of a developing and province-wide investigation into the activities of the dissidents opposed to the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement peace accord.

The military documents are still being examined and it is not clear how they came to be in the possession of the loyalists.

A number of men have been charged and several weapons and home made pipe bombs as well as ammunition have been recovered in a series of police operations against the Orange Volunteers and another loyalist splinter group, the Red Hand Defenders.

'Lives saved'

The RUC said on Wednesday that lives had been saved by the investigation involving up to 50 detectives.

Detective Chief Superintendent Brian McVicar said: "Without question, lives have been saved.

"We have no doubt whatever that by recovering this material we have not only prevented imminent physical attacks but have severely disrupted intelligence-gathering ahead of further planned attacks," he said.

Mr McVicar said that after the information obtained had been authenticated officers would be calling on anyone identified as being at risk from terrorist attack.

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