Belfast Telegraph

Watchdog is warned to be careful with sensitive info

By Michael McHugh

The Northern Ireland Secretary has warned a new peace process watchdog that it must safeguard national security information.

The Independent Reporting Commission (IRC) was established by the British and Irish governments after the 2015 Fresh Start Agreement to monitor activity by paramilitaries.

It was agreed following Stormont talks involving the five main parties amid concern about continued activity by organised groups. It followed the murder of ex-IRA man Kevin McGuigan Snr in Belfast that year.

Secretary of State James Brokenshire wrote to the body earlier in the summer but there is no suggestion his intervention was anything other than routine.

He said that "it is likely that the commission will receive information which could, if disclosed, be prejudicial to the national security interests of the UK".

"This guidance therefore draws together the principles and arrangements for managing national security sensitive information so as to ensure that the commission can carry out its responsibilities effectively and that the national security interests are also properly protected."

Disclosure of some sensitive information could risk the life or safety of a person, Mr Brokenshire added, and the commission had a duty to ensure its proper protection.

Belfast Telegraph

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