Sinn Féin representatives have refused to endorse the Policing Board’s latest human rights report.
The authority which is supposed to hold PSNI police chief Hugh Orde to account is reported to be divided over the dossier, which centred on the use of plastic bullets.
Meanwhile, Orde has said said his force will not be issued with controversial Taser stun guns “for the time being”. The decision follows negative publicity over the weapon’s use by some US police forces and has been linked to the PSNI’s lack of guidelines for their use.
Alex Maskey, the Sinn Féin policing spokesman, confirmed a number of the 45 recommendations could not be supported by his party.
He said: “The Policing Board has the direct responsibility to ensure that the PSNI complies with the highest standards of human rights in all areas of its work.
“While there has been considerable progress in recent years we are not satisfied that the Policing Board has been rigorous enough in its role of scrutiny and holding the police to account.
“Sinn Féin does not support or endorse a number of the recommendations in this report.”
As he urged the Board to consider the recommendations, however, Mr Maskey claimed they do not set the benchmark high enough nor compel the PSNI to fully implement them.
He stressed: “Sinn Féin will not under any circumstances, endorse the use of plastic bullets, particularly against children.
“We are very disappointed therefore that the Policing Board has again supported the use of plastic bullets.”
Fellow Policing Board member and party spokesperson on human rights, Martina Anderson, said that her party would no longer give blanket approval to Policing Board reports.
Among the issues she dentified were the use of plastic bullets, Tasers and CS gas; sectarianism; breaches of discipline; deficiencies in human rights training, particularly in relation to children; and abuse of stop and search powers.
“Sinn Féin has made it clear that our engagement with the policing structures is about delivering accountability and ensuring effective policing within a strong Human Rights framework,” she said.
“While recognising that there has been progress we need to further consider these recommendations because we do not believe they are strong enough.
“Unlike last year or the year before Sinn Féin will not just rubber stamp Policing Board reports. We will ensure full compliance with international and European human rights standards. Any attempt to dilute or side-step these standards will be challenged.”
The PSNI have ben criticised after they opened fire on a lorry they claimed had failed to stop at a checkpoint in south Armagh.
The incident on on Tuesday night is being investigated by the Police Ombudsman’s Office.
Sinn Féin representatives in the area warned that firing in “a cavalier attitude” could damage attempts by the police to win their support.
Cllr Anthony Flynn said: “The PSNI have to recognise that opening fire with live rounds, particularly at a time when the roads are busy with people returning from work, is dangerous.
“It is not that long ago that the PSNI killed a man in a similar incident.”