Irish Republican News · August 11, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Speculation grows over new policing moves

New British legislation, providing for the eventual transfer of policing and justice powers to the Belfast assembly, is expected to be passed in October, according to reports.

Meanwhile, speculaton is mounting that so-called “criminal records” for republican political prisoners will be scrapped as part of new moves to increase republican representation in and involvement with the PSNI police.

This is still considered an essential ingredient in any final package of reforms clearing the way for an eventual Sinn Féin endorsement of the PSNI (formerly the RUC).

Wiping the records clean would remove the bar to republicans otherwise willing to serve as independent members of District Policing Partnership Boards, and possibly the PSNI itself.

If the DUP makes good its current threat to postpone the resumption of power-sharing devolution for at least two years, Sinn Féin will still put pressure on the British and Irish governments for a new policing dispensation to be delivered pending the restoration of the Assembly.

Alban Maginness of the rival nationalist SDLP has claimed in a statement that it is “reckless and dangerous” for Sinn Féin to continue to demand that the prison records of IRA Volunteers be erased so they can join the PSNI.

However, Sinn Féin justice spokesman Gerry Kelly accused Mr Maginness of “scare mongering”.

Mr Kelly insisted there had been a political conflict over the last 30 years and people had been jailed who would not normally have ended up in prison.

He said the nNrth was now in a peace process and there were questions surrounding former prisoners being able to adopt children or seek employment.

Mr Kelly said he himself was an ex-prisoner and could be an assembly member, a minister, or a member of the Policing Board.

He said the argument had been won about ex-prisoners joining district policing partnerships, and said the Patten report itself did not specifically oppose this.

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© 2005 Irish Republican News