They state that they have no separate investigative powers to obtain information but rely on what they receive from official bodies such as the Police Service Northern Ireland and other sources which provide them with additional knowledge as to the most likely people or organisation responsible for the Northern Bank raid.
Their job, it seems, was to analyse all the information, assess the value and validity of the details given them and see what conclusions they could come to as to who the most likely perpetrators were.
In their opinion the Chief Constable's view that there were clear signs that the IRA were involved was correct. Then, as there were connections with Sinn Féin some penalties should be imposed because the latter would be in breach of the Good Friday Agreement.
Given that the information made available to them would be the same as that the police had it would be difficult for them, without independent means of acquiring it themselves, to do anything other than come to the same conclusions.
The recent report of a money laundering operation uncovered by the police in the Republic has cast further doubt on the truth of IRA and Sinn Féin denials of involvement in the bank raid as there is some indication of links with individuals who have or have had Republican connections.
Should these links, after further investigation, turn out to be validated by substantial evidence there can be a very serious effect on the leaders of Sinn Féin and on the peace and political process.
It is suggested that have only two options. One is to stick with denials and ride out the storm hoping that investigations will not be conclusive until well beyond the point where the elections in the UK and Ireland are over. The other is to take the plunge, with a very real danger to the integrity of the Republican movement, and completely disconnect themselves from the paramilitary and the military wing.
It will be a catastrophe for all the efforts to advance Northern Ireland society to political and social reconciliation if a connection with the Northern Bank raid turns out to be a bridge too far. This struggle for equality and justice, almost achieved at times, will have been dashed by crass stupidity and arrogance.
For politics to work and to be seen to be working it is necessary for politicians to be in control and have hindsight beforehand. It seems that either they were not in charge, or if they were, were sadly deficient in political acumen.
A new political process may be essential, with consequential long delays and dangers for economic and social stability.
©: Samuel H. Boyd, Cwmbran, Wales, 18 February 2005.