By Jack Holland
The Royal Ulster Constabulary’s Special Branch, which deals with politically motivated crimes, is likely to be merged with the force’s ordinary crime unit, the Criminal Investigations Department, reliable sources have said. The date of the merger has yet to be determined, but some sources suggest it could take place within the year.
The fate of RUC is seen as one of the central issues to be settled as part of the implementation of the Belfast Agreement. Sinn Fein are calling for the force’s disbandment, while Unionists are adamant in defending it from reforms, which they see as weakening its capacity to carry out its counter-terrorist role.
An RUC spokesman said that the Special Branch is part of the force’s crime division, but with its own assistant chief constable.