West Belfast policing debates
The issue of policing in the North of Ireland was again at the centre stage last Thursday at the Falls Community Council in West Belfast. Representatives of community organisations and human rights campaigners gathered to announce a series of debates on the future of policing, to be coordinated by the council.
With the legislation on policing set to create a storm in the coming weeks, the aim of the debates is to gather grass-roots opinions and responses to the proposed legislation.
When the Patten consultation started, the Falls Community Council had already set up a series of consultations on the issue, culminating with a meeting between the Patten Commission and the public at Whiterock and a large conference in Springvale.
Speaking at the press conference announcing the launch, Liz Groves, chair of the Falls Community Council, spoke of the need for widespread community debate on the implementation of all aspects of the Good Friday Agreement relating to policing. ``Recent developments with the policing bill and the inquiry into Rosemary Nelson's murder have made such debates necessary. This new police service has to be right for us as a community. We are very concerned that many issues are still not being tackled in the proposed policing bill,'' said Groves.
``We want to make sure that all issues in the Good Friday Agreement are addressed in the implementation plan and the forthcoming legislation. We will continue to work with community groups to make sure that all steps are taken to ensure that whatever new policing service is right for the community.''
Mitchel McLaughlin of Sinn Féin said it was vital that the unanimity which is emerging from the broad nationalist community on the issue of policing be maintained: ``What we want is the security of an acceptable, representative and accountable policing service. The people in all the constituencies represented by both Sinn Féin and the SDLP want the same thing and they have consistently stressed that.''