Concerns on policing voiced in Fermanagh
A public meeting to discuss the policing issue in the Six Counties was held in Lisnaskea, County Fermanagh, on Wednesday, 13 September. The meeting, organised by the Committee For a New Police Service, heard from different shades of nationalist opinion.
Pat Fahy, a Tyrone solicitor, Fr Joe McVeigh, human rights activist; Tommy Gallagher of the SDLP and Sinn Féin's Alex Maskey made up the platform while Sister Majella Carron chaired the meeting.
The panel agreed that there was no support for the Policing Bill within the nationalist community and that the Bill was an attempt to subvert the Patten recommendations.
Alex Maskey said that Sinn Féin's position was that the RUC should be disbanded. He accused Mandelson of a campaign of deceit in an effort to undermine the Patten proposals. He said it was a case of the British Government acting once more in bad faith on commitments given last May at the time of the IRA's initiative.
Pat Fahy said that policing was a core issue that could not be dodged and unless dealt with satisfactorily there was no hope for the Good Friday Agreement.
Tommy Gallagher welcomed the opportunity to speak and listen to people's views on what was an important issue and spoke of the glaring inadequacies of the Policing Bill. ``There can be no tampering with Patten and unless there are radical changes to the Bill, there is going to be no new beginning,'' he said.
Fr Joe McVeigh said the Bill had ditched many key recommendations of Patten, particularly in the areas of accountability and representation. ``It was,'' he said, ``a kick in the teeth for all those who made submissions to Patten.''