Republican News · Thursday 18 May 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Police Bill a fiasco - Labour MP

The newly published Police Bill for Northern Ireland has been slammed by a senior Labour MP as ``a fiasco''. Former shadow Six-County spokesperson kevin McNamara criticised the British government for allowing the issue of policing to made into a `political football' by unionists.

McNamara, a co-founder of the Friends of Ireland group, made his comments following the publication of the Bill in the House of Commons on Tuesday, 16 May.

He said: ``I am angered that the government has allowed the issue of policing to be hijacked in this manner. I cannot understand the failure by government to grasp this unique opportunity provided by Patten.

``The name of the police service is not about wheeling and dealing in Northern Ireland politics, but a measure of commitment to a new beginning. Attacks on the principle or spirit of Patten serve to undermine the whole process.''

Setting out a vision of policing in the future, McNamara said: ``Northern Ireland needs a police service to keep the peace; a professional service to promote reconciliation and meet the needs of the next century.''

Commenting on the failure of the Police Bill to deliver the necessary inclusivity and confidence of nationalists, McNamara said: ``The proposals on policing must recognise the new deal for equality and give the poorest communities a say. It must reach out to those who in the past have the suffered the shortcomings of poor policing. These people are understandably the most hostile to the RUC and its traditions. The Police Bill fails to set out new objectives for policing; it provides no transition to the police service of the future.''

``It is essential - now more than ever, that an Oversight Commissioner, as proposed by Chris Patten, be appointed as a matter of urgency. I will be demanding this in the debate on the Bill's Second Reading.''

Contents Page for this Issue
Reply to: Republican News