Republican News · Thursday 18 May 2000

[An Phoblacht]

No dilution of Patten, urge US Congress members

Sinn Féin National Chairperson, Mitchel McLaughlin, met with members of Congress in Washington on Thursday, 11 May, to appraise them of the initiative taken by the IRA and of the British and Irish governments' statements surrounding the reinstatement of the power sharing executive.

McLaughlin detailed the huge effort Sinn Féin had put into the recent weeks of negotiations to break yet another impasse in the Peace Process.

He told the Members that the attempt by the UUP and David Trimble to again negotiate aspects of the Agreement, in particular with regard to the Patten recommendations, could undo the achievement at the weekend. The UUP is demanding the retention of the RUC name and badge and the flying of the Union Jack on all government buildings.

McLaughlin said, ``The Patten Report was minimal with regard to a new policing service. Sinn Féin's single recommendation was the disbandment of the RUC. If the British government, after signing off on a negotiated pact to restore the Executive and move speedily to implement the overall Agreement is now reneging from such a fundamental issue, it puts it all in jeopardy.''

The response from the Members was strong and they expressed their utter support for the upholding of the Agreement, urging that all parties and the two governments move forward to consolidate the in initiative.

In a letter to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Congressman Chris Smith, and House International Relations Committee Chairman Benjamin Gilman, warned of the dangers of diluting the recommendations.

The letter reads: ``We write... to express our grave concern about recent news reports that suggest that the implementation of the Patten Commission report on policing in Northern Ireland... may be delayed or tabled and used as a bargaining chip with Unionists who oppose reforms.

``We have spent an extensive amount of time examining the report and the policing problems in Northern Ireland and believe it is imperative that, at a minimum, these modest reforms must be made in full.''

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