`RUC Lite' not the healthy option
Peace Watch Ireland, a US-based human rights group, has denounced the British Government's Police Act as `RUC Lite' and called on President Bill Clinton to use his Irish visit to build support for the Patten report.
Seán Cahill, one of the three Peace Watch members who testified in front of the Patten Commission two years ago in New York, said Clinton should make a clear statement on policing during his visit.
``President Clinton can make one final substantive contribution to peace in Northern Ireland by rejecting the British government's evisceration of police reform,'' he said.
``He should tell Tony Blair to go back to the drawing board and produce a police reform law which reflects the compromise embodied in the Patten report.''
Both the spirit and letter of the Patten Commission recommendations and the Good Friday Agreement have been violated by the British Police Reform Bill, Cahill said. ``Any meaningful civilian oversight is removed due to the veto power on inquiries placed in the hands of the Chief Constable and Secretary of State. Recruitment mechanisms to make the force representative of the population in the Six Counties have been watered down. The name `Royal Ulster Constabulary' - reviled by nationalists due to the RUC's collusion with loyalist paramilitaries and systematic bigotry and violence against Catholics - has been retained in official documents. And there is no resolution of the issue of symbols and emblems.
``The nationalist/Catholic community has no faith in the RUC. This new Police Service of Northern Ireland is nothing more than RUC Lite.''
Peace Watch is one of several organisations planning a protest on Sunday, 17 December between 1pm and 3pm in front of the British Consulate in New York City.