Republican News · Thursday 8 June 1999

[An Phoblacht]

Policing Service Crisis - Onus on British

Sinn Féin Assembly member Martin McGuinness MP and colleagues Conor Murphy, Mary Nelis, Dara O'Hagan and Alex Maskey released Sinn Féin's detailed assessment and critique of the Blair/Mandelson Policing Bill on Friday, 2 June.

McGuinness said:

``Sinn Féin, which yesterday lobbied TDs in Leinster House and MPs in the British Parliament, is stepping up its opposition campaign to the Police Bill. In the material we are providing you with this morning, we spell out clearly those areas of the Bill which need amendment (see An Phoblacht, pages 10/11).

``Quite clearly, the onus to end the crisis over this aspect of the Good Friday Agreement lies with the British Prime Minister. He made commitments on this issue. He must now honour those commitments.

``The main focus in the controversy surrounding the Policing legislation has been on the concessions which appear to have been given by the British government to the Ulster Unionist Party.

``This has tended to distract away from, or to disguise, the amount of damage that has been done to the goal of a new policing service by those within the British system who have a much more strategic view than the unionist politicians, and who have been permitted by the British government to emasculate the Patten recommendations.

``I am referring in particular to the RUC insiders, to the securocrats and to the NIO officials who have succeeded, at this stage, in subverting the establishment of a civic policing service. They are obviously intent on preventing democratic accountability or real influence from the community on policing. Sinn Féin has given our detailed assessment of the emasculation of Patten to the British Prime Minister, to the Taoiseach and to the US government.

``But it is the British Prime Minister who holds the key to resolving the controversy around policing.

``The Joint Letter issued by the two governments on 5 May committed the British government to `implement the Patten report'. In what became known as the Hillsborough initiative, the IRA leadership responded positively to this and other commitments in the Joint Statement by the two governments and the letter they sent to party leaders.

``The Policing Bill, produced 11 days later by the British government, bears no resemblance to Patten.

``We therefore need to persuade the British government to honour its commitments under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and the deal that was hammered out at Hillsborough on 5 May.

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