Pressure has mounted on the DUP to accept power sharing in light of Sinn Fein’s latest concessions, but DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said his party will wait to see if Sinn Fein displayed support for the PSNI “on the ground”.
The East Belfast MP said: “I think people will watch over the next number of days if what is implicit becomes explicit.
“They will want to see whether crimes are reported and see whether meetings between Sinn Fein representatives and senior police officers take place at a local and regional level.
“They will wait to see whether Sinn Fein representatives explicit urge young people from their community to joint the PSNI.
“These are the things that normal democratic politicians do and I hope that is what we see from Sinn Fein.”
Ulster Unionist Party leader Reg Empey said the Sinn Fein vote on policing was a “massive step change in the republican psyche”.
Ian Paisley took credit for requiring Sinn Fein to support a force which remains under the authority of the British Crown.
“The DUP has forced Sinn Fein to recognise support for the police and the rule of law as an issue of paramount importance for which there can be no other way,” he said.
While the motion passed by the extraordinary Sinn Fein Ard Fheis on Sunday requires the DUP’s agreement on power-sharing before the extensive policy shift on policing took effect, Ian Paisley said there could be no further delay for what he termed “real delivery”.
“Sinn Fein must now walk this road. No post-dated action can take the place of real delivery. The postponements must come to an end.
“The time for true, visible and open support for the police and law enforcement has arrived.”
In particular, the DUP has called on Sinn Fein to come forward with information in the case of the Belfast man Robert McCartney, who was killed two years ago in a knife-fight outside a city centre Belfast bar.
Despite the requirements of the motion pased at the Ard Fheis, Gerry Adams quickly moved to wring the changes this week, calling on republicans to sign up to join the PSNI. He also urged republicans to attend their local PSNI base with information about any criminal activity, including the McCartney case.
Mr Adams said if young republicans want to join the PSNI, “that is their right and we would support them in doing that. There is no point in encouraging people to work with the police if we don’t encourage those who want to join,” said Mr Adams.
Speaking after the party’s latest ardchomhairle meeting in Dublin, Mr Adams said: “I think it is just a natural consequence of the decision that we took. All of this takes time.”
However, he said there is “a huge onus” on the PSNI to “earn the trust and confidence” of the republican and nationalist communities “which at this point does not exist”.
Mr Adams criticised the DUP’s latest demands, which he said was “sadly predicatable”.
“Republicans are getting frustrated about the litany coming from the DUP,” he said. “The DUP needs to cop on. We don’t need lectures, ultimatums and demands from anyone else,” he said.
“Assertions by the DUP that they are going to test republicans don’t wash. They have no veto over how we deal with this issue,” said Mr Adams.
“What republicans did at the weekend was done in the national interest and in the common good. It wasn’t done for the DUP. And they are in no position to lecture anyone on law and order.
“So rather than unionist politicians competing with each other on a negative agenda, surely now is the time to grasp the opportunity and adopt a more positive approach. This, I am sure would be welcomed by many unionist people.”
Meanwhile, 26-County Minister for Justice Michael McDowell also said that convicting those involved in the McCartney killing would be the litmus test of Sinn Fein support for the PSNI.
Mr Adams responded, “This is the Minister who refuses to put into place in the other jurisdiction on this island the type of accountability and mechanisms that are in place in this one.
“Mr McDowell, like Ian Paisley, is in no position to lecture or to give tests or to in any way put preconditions upon Sinn Fein.”
Despite prompting by journalists, Mr Adams has held back from calling on republicans and nationalists to inform on impending attacks planned by traditional republican groups.
Calling for an end to all armed actions, Mr Adams said he remains determined to open dialogue with “dissidents” in Republican Sinn Fein, Continuity IRA and the Real IRA.
“I think it is a very honourable thing to be a dissident. I do want to engage with them. There should be no armed actions.
“We have a strategy for dealing with those who would claim the right to engage in armed action. We think that our strategy will work,” Mr Adams said.
“We are calling on people in the community to co-operate with the police to solve crime and take criminals off the streets. The issue of political policing will take longer to resolve.
“Further progress will happen either with the return of the powersharing institutions on March 26th or in the context of new all-Ireland partnership arrangements,” Mr Adams added.
DUP MP Nigel Dodds seized on Adams’s comments on becoming an informer. Mr Dodds said the “heavy conditionality” of the Sinn Fein motion “was becoming clearer by the day”. He said, “Sinn Fein are drawing a distinction between what they describe as so-called ‘civic policing’ and so-called ‘political policing’.”