Stormont case - Ruling ends claims of spying ring
In Belfast Crown Court yesterday, during a surprise and unscheduled hearing, charges were quietly dropped against three men arrested, over an alleged IRA spy ring at Stormont.
When the three were dramatically arrested in a police raid on Sinn Féin offices, three years ago, it was sufficient to result in a political row that led to the collapse of the Northern Executive.
Mr Justice Hart was informed that the DPP was offering no further evidence in the case, which saw the three charged, collectively, on seven counts of possessing and collecting information useful to terrorists.
This was the ultimate corollary to a case began to unravel in February last year, when charges of possessing documents originating from the Northern Ireland Office were thrown out by the court.
It is impossible to disagree with SF’s chief negotiator Martin McGuinness that this “shameful episode” is proof that there was never a spy ring at Stormont.
The prosecution of the case, however, has had enormous political repercussions and also seriously contributed to a souring of relations towards Sinn Féin.
In effect, the Assembly was suspended and the affairs of the North seriously retarded by a spurious case.
Of course, the whole "spy ring" was concocted by the British to give David Trimble an excuse to avoid dealing with Sinn Fein. Let us hope that people remember this the next time the British make some allegation against Irish republicans.
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