» Monday, December 19, 2005

Northern Ireland

Asked what the Prime Minister’s reply to the continuing claims from Sinn Fein’s that there was political interference in the Stormontgate affair, the PMOS replied that for obvious legal and security reasons, there was a limit to what he could say. The Prime Minister had not changed his view which was supported by the Police Ombudsmen, that the police operation in Stormont was both right and necessary. The Prime Minister fully supported the police in what they did, and that was his view before last week, and that view remained.

Asked what was the Prime Minister’s view on the Taoseich’s comments that he was sceptical about the official explanation about what was happening, the PMOS replied that this was a situation in which for all the reasons the PMOS had set out, it was difficult to give a full explanation. That therefore posed problems in terms of explaining why we had the view we had, and why the Prime Minister continued to have that view. However, the Prime Minister’s view remained exactly the same, which was this operation was justified and necessary.

Put by The Guardian that the Prime Minister’s answer at Commons questions last week was unsatisfactory, so what was going on, the PMOS asked the journalist if he had read his own editorial today? The PMOS also asked the journalist what it was about the Prime Minister’s comments last week at PMQs that justified the allegations. The PMOS wanted to differentiate two things: one was the reasons why the case was abandoned, which was entirely a decision taken by the legal authorities. As the Prime Minister made clear, there was no interference by him or by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Secondly, in terms of the police operation, there were good legal and security reasons why we could not be more explicit, and why we continued to believe the operation was justified. That remained the case, and we accepted that that meant that there was a less than full explanation. People could accept or reject that, but from our perspective, that remained the case.

Asked if the Prime Minister knew in his own mind precisely why the democratic institution in Northern Ireland was suspended, as many people were less sure than they once were, the PMOS replied: yes, the Prime Minister did know, and he remained convinced.

Asked why there would be no further information from the Government on Stormont, the PMOS replied because it was not possible to give ay further information.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Search for related news

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