[Sinn Fein]

18 August 2000

Sinn Fein does not share RUC Chief Constable's optimism

The Sinn Fein national chairperson and Assembly member for Foyle, Mitchel McLaughlin, has said that he does not share RUC Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan's view that yesterday's (Thursday's) RUC passing out parade will mark a new era in policing. Mr McLaughlin said:

``In his speech yesterday Ronnie Flanagan indicated that he saw the beginning of a new era for policing in the Six Counties and stressed that he looked forward to building on the foundations of the past. Unfortunately, as an Irish republican, I cannot share his optimism.

``We in Sinn Fein believe that Chris Patten, despite his political background, made an honest attempt to solve the policing issue. The British Government has chosen to ignore this. The history of the RUC, their role in collusion, shoot to kill, and the murdering of children with plastic bullets, is clearly an unacceptable foundation on which to build a new police service upon.

``The Patten Commission did come up with what could have formed a basis for a new beginning to policing. However, for nationalists, Patten did not go far enough, and if the British Government come up with anything less than Patten then Sinn Fein will not be recommending the Mandelson Police Force as a career choice for young republicans and nationalists.

``Republicans want and need the security of decent, democratic and accountable policing. The Mandelson Police Bill, however, fails to deliver this. What is required is a new civic policing service that is democratically accountable, working in partnership with all citizens, and upholding international standards of human rights. The Mandelson Police Bill does not offer this. It merely offers a continuity of the present, discredited RUC. While this is the case I cannot share Ronnie Flanagan's optimism.''

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