Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has said his party is set to take up its positions on the Policing Board following a first ever meeting with the controversial body.
Mr Adams said he would propose that Sinn Féin take up its positions on the Policing Board, which has a supervisory role over the PSNI police, at a meeting of the party’s leadership on May 12.
Mr Adams described the meeting as another important step towards accountable and effective policing on both sides of the border. However, the move was greeted with disdain by republican traditionalists, who said Sinn Féin was aligning itself with the forces of British occupation in Ireland.
Mr Adams did not reveal who the three party nominees would be.
“I have given notice to the ard chomhairle of that intention and that’s all in the expectation and very firm conviction that on May 8 we will see the institutions here reconstituted and the executive in place,” he said.
Mr Adams said he was satisfied that the May 2008 target date for the transfer of policing and justice powers from London to Belfast would be met.
Policing Board chairman Desmond Rea said he and his colleagues had found the meeting positive and constructive.
“It afforded an opportunity for us to relate to them about policing, about the board, the role of the board, the role of district policing partnerships and for them to ask us questions and for us also to say that this meeting was the next step on the road to that final piece of the jigsaw going into place.”
Sinn Féin said it had raised issues such as police accountability, plastic bullets and collusion.
“At the time of the Patten consultation it was Sinn Féin who argued for a strong Policing Board to hold the policing service to account,” said policing spokesman Alex Maskey. “In the years since in a series of negotiations we worked to ensure that it had the powers necessary to do so,” he said.
ARRESTS BLAMED ON SF
In a statement, Republican Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle member Richard Walsh said that on the day of the historic Policing Board meeting, Sinn Féin’s “new military wing” had arrested two people in North Armagh in connection with alleged Republican activity.
Damien William McKenna from Lurgan and Gary Toman from Craigavon were remanded in custody on Tuesday to appear at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court via video link on May 10.
“Gerry Adams subsequently stated that he is preparing to secure the acceptance of the Provo Ard-Chomhairle for his party to join the RUC’s Policing Board. Clearly the Provos are more interested in “putting manners” on Republicans rather than holding the RUC to account,” said Walsh.
“As those arrested have now been charged in relation to alleged Republican activity the Provos can no longer obfuscate on the matter. They must accept responsibility for the imprisonment of these two men due to their policy of total collaboration with English rule in Ireland and their new role as RUC cheerleaders.”