Time to move on from MI5 debate

Alliance Party Justice Spokesperson, Stephen Farry, has called upon parties to move on from the sterile debate over the MI5 role in Northern Ireland and to concentrate on resolving the outstanding issues relating to the devolution of policing.

Stephen Farry stated:

“The PSNI should be responsible for all aspects of policing in Northern Ireland, while MI5 should be responsible for intelligence gathering throughout the United Kingdom. MI5 should not be involved in operations, and would need to rely upon the police for such work. This division of labour should be perfectly clear, and has been reinforced by the recent statement from the Prime Minister.

“Northern Ireland is only one small part in the efforts to deal with international terrorism. The best way to hold MI5 to account is through much more rigorous scrutiny at the Westminster level. The extension of the remit of Lord Carlile should be only one such element of this. One key issue for Alliance is to ensure that there is a consistency in approach in any residual activity from domestic Northern Ireland based terrorism.

“Threats emanating from both Republican and Loyalist groups should be considered as a threat to national security; one should not be regarded as being essentially criminal while the other is considered as a security threat.

“This debate over the role of MI5 is somewhat of a straw man. It should no longer be used as a hostage to reaching a full resolution of the policing issues. In particular, the SDLP need to stop winding up the situation.”


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