Aspects of Stormont raid on SF 'over the top' - Ahern

 

The Taoiseach, Mr Bertie Ahern last night said he thought some aspects of Friday's police raid on the Sinn Fein offices at Stormont could have been better handled.

Mr Ahern also said he felt he could not make a proper judgment on the matter, because he did not have all the facts.

The Taoiseach said he hoped to meet Prime Minister Tony Blair to discuss the issue next week, stressing the serious consequences the affair had for the peace process."We are trying to bring together as much facts as we can to try and make judgment on it," he said.

"It certainly seems that the number of police involved in that (Stormont raid) seems to be a bit extensive for the operation."

He said he had had a number of discussions over the last 24 hours and that he hoped his meeting with Tony Blair would help "keep things on track".

He added: "I don't think we have all the information, that is why we are not being judgmental, but I think some things, maybe, looked to be over the top."We do not want to be judgmental, we want to see as much facts as we can."

The head of administration at Sinn Fein's Stormont office, Denis Donaldson, was arrested in Friday's operation by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and a former employee at the Northern Ireland Office was also among those being interrogated.

Ulster Unionist sources indicated that much was riding on next week's meeting between their leader David Trimble and Mr Blair.