SF response to US envoy
SF response to US envoy
Sinn Féin has revealed its response to criticism by US envoy Mitchell Reiss of its New York Times advertisment on policing in the North of Ireland.

The following, taken from an IAIS report, contains the points made in the NY Times advertisement in quotes, followed by Sinn Féin's defense of their claim.


``-Sinn Féin wants policing in the north of Ireland-''

We trust that you accept this point. Sinn Féin wants a proper policing service.


``-we demand the policing service people are entitled to and will not settle simply for the one the British are prepared to give-''

I believe the truth of this statement is self-evident. We will not simply settle for the police service the British are prepared to give. Sectarian policing imposed on us by the British has been at the core of the abuse we have suffered since partition. We are extremely serious about getting policing right.


``-When the British partitioned Ireland in 1921, they created a sectarian police force to secure a sectarian state. For more than 75 years they operated as a political police force.-''

It is simply beyond any reasonable dispute that the RUC was implemented as a sectarian force to defend a iProtestant State for a Protestant peoplei and operated in that fashion for over 75 years.


``-In 1998 the Good Friday Agreement promised a new beginning to policing. The Patten commission was established to recommend the change necessary to create that new beginning.-''

The Agreement speaks for itself when it states ``he agreement provides the opportunity for a new beginning to policing in Northern Ireland with a police service capable of attracting and sustaining support from the community as a whole.i And there is no dispute about the role of the Patten Commission.


``-The commission made 175 recommendations.-''

The Patten Report is of record and speaks for itself.


``-These changes contained the potential for a new beginning to policing.-''

We have repeatedly stated our belief that Patten contains such potential. Certainly, you do not maintain otherwise.


``-The British Government, however, reneged on its obligations and gutted key elements of Patten's report-''

Despite the rhetoric of the establishment that Patten has been implemented, Patten is a written document that can be compared against the changes legislated. They do not match up. Key provisions have been gutted, and no amount of repeated statements to the contrary can change this reality.


``-the report was gutted to prevent or delay change.-''

As noted by Irish News columnist and former SDLP Councilor Brian Feeney (March 4, 2004), the ``damage Mandelson did by modifying the Patten proposals and enshrining that modification in law will be with us for a long time.'' Only an uninformed or ill-intentioned person would deny that the changes to Patten are designed to prevent or delay change.


``-British political control of policing remains.-''

This is irrefutable. The British Secretary of State and British securocrats still retain control of policing and justice through the NIO in Belfast and London. Instead of the required civic policing the intelligence agencies such as MI5, Special Branch and civil servants who have handled policing and justice for generations are still in charge. The only way to resolve that situation is to transfer powers on policing and justice to the locally elected democratic Assembly in the north. Democratic accountability is critical.


``-The force is not representative of the community and there are no goals and timetables to achieve this.-''

Again the statistics are of record. There is no dispute that the force is not representative of the community. There are presently over 9,000 members of the PSNI, (including the Full-time reserve and Part-time reserve). The Northern Ireland Office and Chief Constable Hugh Orde have claimed that 13.6% of all PSNI members are Catholic. In fact, these statistics are a distortion because they reflect only Catholic membership of the PSNI regulars. The composition of Catholics within the PSNI as a whole is 11.6% (at October 2003). This is five years after Patten and after a full cycle (3 years) of 50:50 quota was introduced for new PSNI recruits. The British government has yet to produce any coherent strategy for ensuring representation of nationalists and republicans.


``-Key positions are held by human rights abusers.-''

This was illustrated once again in the January 2004 Police Ombudsman's report on the failure to investigate the loyalist killing of Sean Brown in South Derry in 1997. The killing was not investigated by the RUC and the Police Ombudsman's inquiries were obstructed by the PSNI. The Ombudsman found ``no earnest effort was made to identify the persons who murdered Sean Brown.''

In fact the Special Branch, which controls loyalist death squads, described by Patten as a `force within a force' - moved en masse into the PSNI without any mechanism to weed out human rights abusers. London Metropolitan Chief Constable John Stevens, after 14 years and three investigations into collusion, reported in April 2003 that he had uncovered, ``collusion, the willful failure to keep records, the absence of accountability, the withholding of evidence, and the extreme of agents being involved in murder''. He added, ``nationalists were known to be targeted but were not properly warned or protected'' and that ``unlawful involvement of agents in murder implies that the security forces sanction killing''.


``-Collusion with loyalist death squads continues.-''

As noted above, this was illustrated once again in the recent Police Ombudsman's report on the failure to investigate the loyalist killing of Sean Brown in South Derry. The killing was not investigated by the RUC and the Police Ombudsman's inquiries were obstructed by the PSNI.

Over the recent period of 4 years loyalist gangs, most notably the UDA, carried out over four hundred (400) gun and bomb attacks against Catholics in the small North Belfast constituency alone. A number of Catholics were actually murdered yet no one was prosecuted. Special Branch still controls dozens of agents in the Loyalist paramilitary groups who act with impunity from the legal process.


``-Police officers with a political agenda continue to fabricate evidence to pervert the course of justice.-''

In the trial of Noel Abernathy, Autumn 2003, Mrs. Ann Irwin, a forensic scientist gave evidence under oath that interference in the gathering and processing of forensic evidence has carried on throughout Mrs. Irwin's employment in the Forensic Science Agency, involving both the RUC and the PSNI. In the case of Mark Carroll and Martin Brogan, evidence vital to the defense, including information about a Special Branch agent provocateur was concealed by the DPP & PSNI Special Branch in a vain attempt to convict the men. Forensic evidence in many other prosecutions is now being questioned, as a result.


``-The chief of police is opposed to inquiries which would expose human rights abusers in his ranks.-''

Chief Constable Hugh Orde opposes public inquiries into the involvement of police officers and others in the killings of Pat Finucane, Rosemary Nelson, Robert Hamill, and many, many others. In fact the Police Ombudsman's office is worried that Hugh Ordeis public emphasis on a itruth processi as opposed to investigations may make her job very difficult in retrospective inquiries already taken up by the Ombudsman.


``-The chief of police is refusing to co-operate with inquests into killings by state forces.-''

PSNI interference in inquests continues despite being legally required to produce the evidence. In a recent case, the inquest of Roseanne Mallon and nine other people from Tyrone, Hugh Orde has again refused to hand over evidence crucial to the inquests.


``-The police force is not subject to democratic accountability.-''

As stated above no provisions have been enacted to provide democratic accountability for policing in the north. To have an all-Ireland approach to justice power must be transferred to the Assembly. This has still not been achieved; six years after the setting up of the first Assembly. Policing remains directly under the political control of the British government and its agencies. There is no timetable for the ending of British government control.


``-Sinn Féin took our position on policing to the electorate in November and won a resounding endorsement.-''

Prior to the election in November 2003 Sinn Féin made public, and indeed was publicly criticized for, our position with regard to policing. The people voted and the nationalist community gave Sinn Féin 60% of their vote.


``-We are determined to get the policing service people deserve;-''

We do not believe anybody doubts our determination. Let us be clear. Those who vote for Sinn Féin want a police service which is truly representative and politically accountable. These are the people arguably who have suffered most from partisan political policing in the past.


``-the policing service the peace process requires-''

Nobody should question the need for proper policing in order for the peace process to fulfill its potential.


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