POLICE have returned the two discs seized by police during a raid of Sinn Fein’s offices at Parliament Buildings.
A plain-clothed officer returned the items to Madden and Finucane solicitors in Belfast at around 3pm yesterday.
The move came after Chief Constable Hugh Orde said if nothing was found on the discs seized during the raid last Friday, they would be quickly returned to the party.
Denis Donaldson, Sinn Fein’s head of administration, whose desk was searched at Stormont, has been remanded in custody charged in connection with a major police probe into an alleged IRA spy network.
Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness yesterday produced the discs in the assembly and repeated his party’s denial over claims that republicans were involved in intelligence gathering.
“I am totally and absolutely opposed to anyone doing anything of an illegal nature which would undermine the people’s institutions, undermine the Good Friday Agreement and undermine a peace process that I and other Sinn Fein leaders have worked very very hard to build,” he said.
Earlier Sinn Fein councillor Fra McCann was in his party’s solicitors office to receive the discs.
Holding them in his hand he said: “This is the excuse that they used to heavy-handedly invade our offices and lifted these on the way out to try and use some type of excuse and to back unionists in their ploy to pull down the institutions.”
Chief Constable Hugh Orde has apologised for the way his officers handled the raid at Parliament buildings, describing it as an “error of judgment”.
But Mr Orde stressed the search was fully justified but said it could have been handled more sensitively adding the issue was discussed with senior officers in the investigation.
Last night Professor Desmond Rea, chairman of the Policing Board, welcomed the chief constable’s apology over the style of the raid at Stormont.
“Clearly the board will want to question Mr Orde more fully about the way this raid was carried out and will do so at the earliest opportunity available,” he said.
“But the board’s role is to look at the policing aspects of this issue not the political – the board will want to keep politics out of policing and ensure an effective and efficient service in maintained.”