Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Fourteen warnings of loyalist threats in two years

Connla Young:

A Belfast man has been warned 14 times in the past two years by the PSNI that his life is under threat from loyalists.

Seán Hayes, a former Sinn Féin councillor in Belfast, was visited by the PSNI last week and advised to step up his personal security after intelligence files went missing from a PSNI station in east Belfast in July 2004.

Mr Hayes is among an estimated 400 people across the North whose personal details were contained in files removed from Castlereagh barracks last year.

After the incident, almost 30 members of the Royal Irish Regiment were removed from the barracks to other locations.

Mr Hayes yesterday accused the British government of deliberately withholding information about the Castlereagh controversy.

“They knew about this last year and yet they have said nothing for over 16 months. That was a policy decision taken 16 months ago,” he said.

“The British government has lied about this. I have received 14 visits from the PSNI in the past two years. If we go further back, it’s dozens. I’ve lost count.

“The two PSNI men who advised me to step up my security laughed when I asked them where I would get such advice. The British government have armed the people who have my details and now they are giving them intelligence.

“The PSNI should just put my personal details on their website or, if loyalists want them, they should call their local station, where I’m sure they’d be happy to hand them over.

“By holding back this information, the British took a decision to endanger up to 400 lives. I am a single parent with responsibilities for children but there’s no support for me and others. Nobody is going to buy my house or give me protection.”

Pat Doherty, Sinn Féin’s spokesman on collusion, yesterday called on those contacted by the PSNI in recent days to get in touch with his party.

“Sinn Féin is anxious to quantify exactly how many people were told that their files are in the hands of unionist death squads as result of the Castlereagh collusion scandal,” said Mr Doherty.

“No doubt it is in the hundreds but exactly how many is unclear at present. I am therefore appealing to anyone who has been visited by the PSNI in recent days to contact their nearest Sinn Fein centre so that we can see the extent and breadth of this latest collusion scandal.

“Some for of collective action may be necessary in the near future to force the PSNI, British Army, the NIO and the British government into revealing more details of what went on ion Castlereagh in July 2004 and why it has taken so long to inform nationalists and republicans that their lives were in danger.”

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