Sinn Féin Ard Fheis motion on policing
Sinn Féin Ard Fheis motion on policing

This Ard Fheis reiterates Sinn Féin’s political commitment to bringing about Irish reunification and the full integration of political, economic, social and cultural life on the island.

This Ard Fheis supports civic policing through a police service which is representative of the community it serves, free from partisan political control and democratically accountable.

We support fair, impartial and effective delivery of the rule of law.

The changes to policing secured in legislation need to be implemented fully. The truth about wrongdoing by British military, intelligence and policing agencies needs to be uncovered and acknowledged. Sinn Féin supports the demands for this from the families of victims. The PSNI needs to make strenuous efforts to earn the trust and confidence of nationalists and republicans. Garda corruption and malpractice - which has been exposed in the Morris tribunal and the Abbeylara inquiry in the 26 counties - shows the need for constant vigilance and oversight. These inquiries and the ill-treatment of republicans by the Garda Special Branch also provide compelling reasons as to why the responsibility of political parties and representatives should be to hold the police to account in a fair and publicly transparent way.

This Ard Fheis is totally opposed to political, sectarian and repressive policing. The experience of nationalists and republicans in the six counties is of a partisan, unionist militia which engaged in harassment, torture, assassination, shoot-to-kill and collusion with death squads.

The Good Friday agreement requires and defines “a new beginning to policing” as an essential element of the peace process. The Good Friday agreement also requires functioning powersharing and all-Ireland political institutions.

The British government have agreed to the transfer of powers on policing and justice away from Westminster to locally-elected political institutions and have set out the departmental model to which these powers will be transferred. In these circumstances, authority over policing and justice will lie in Ireland.

We note the British government’s new policy statement of January 10th, 2007 which removes MI5 from policing structures in Ireland. This removes the proposals to embed MI5 into civic policing and removes the danger of again creating a force within a force.

We note also the commitment by PSNI chief constable Hugh Orde that plastic bullets will not be used for purposes of public order/crowd control and his acknowledgement of the hurt resulting from injuries and death of innocent people including children.

These weapons should never be used again. Sinn Féin will continue to campaign for a total ban. This Ard Fheis notes the refusal of the DUP leader Ian Paisley to publicly commit to powersharing and participation in the all-Ireland political institutions by March 26th, 2007.

Before the Ard Chomhairle meeting on December 29th the DUP had agreed words which they would release in response to the Ard Chomhairle accepting the policing motion put by the party president. We note the DUP’s failure to keep to this commitment.

It is clear that elements of the DUP are determined to use policing and other issues to prevent progress, resist powersharing and equality, and oppose any all-Ireland development. This is unacceptable.

It is the responsibility of the two governments and pro-Agreement parties across the island to resist this and to ensure the full implementation of the Good Friday agreement.

Sinn Féin is committed to justice. Sinn Féin is committed to law and order, and to stable and inclusive partnership government, and, in good faith and in a spirit of genuine partnership, to the full operation of stable powersharing government and the north-south and east-west arrangements set out in the Good Friday agreement.

The responsibility of the police is to defend and uphold the rights of citizens. In order to fulfil this role they require critical support.

Sinn Féin reiterates our support for An Garda Siochana and commits fully to:

  • Support for the PSNI and the criminal justice system.

  • Hold the police and criminal justice systems north and south fully to account, both democratically and legally, on the basis of fairness and impartiality and objectivity.

  • Authorise our elected representatives to participate in local policing structures in the interests of justice, the quality of life for the community and to secure policing with the community as the core function of the PSNI and actively encouraging everyone in the community to co-operate fully with the police services in tackling crime in all areas and actively supporting all the criminal justice institutions.

  • The devolution of policing and justice to the Assembly.

  • Equality and human rights at the heart of the new dispensation and to pursue a shared future in which the culture, rights and aspirations of all are respected and valued, free from sectarianism, racism and intolerance.

    To achieve this the Ard Chomhairle is hereby mandated to:

  • Appoint Sinn Féin representatives to the Policing Board and the District Policing Partnership Boards to ensure that: a civic policing service, accountable and representative of the community is delivered as quickly as possible; the chief constable and the PSNI are publicly held to account; policing with the community is achieved as the core function of the PSNI; political policing, collusion and “the force within a force” is a thing of the past and to oppose any involvement by the British Security Service/MI5 in civic policing.

  • Ensure Sinn Féin representatives robustly support the demands for: equality of treatment for all victims and survivors; effective truth recovery mechanisms; acknowledgement by the British state of its involvement in wrongdoing including collusion with loyalist paramilitaries; to ensure that there is no place in the PSNI for those guilty of human rights abuses.

  • Resolutely oppose the use of lethal weapons in public order situations.

  • Authorise Sinn Féin ministers to take the ministerial Pledge of Office.

  • Achieve accountable all-Ireland policing structures.

    The Ard Chomhairle recommends: that this Ard Fheis endorses the Ard Chomhairle motion; that the Ard Chomhairle is mandated to implement this motion only when the powersharing institutions are established and when the Ard Chomhairle is satisfied that the policing and justice powers will be transferred. Or if this does not happen within the St Andrews timeframe, only when acceptable new partnership arrangements to implement the Good Friday agreement are in place.

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    © 2007 Irish Republican News