24 August 2001
No to Second Class Policing
Sinn Fein today published its detailed assessment of the British government's Implementation Plan on Policing.
Speaking to the media this afternoon the Sinn Fein Party Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin said:
``The British government's Policing Act and the revised Implementation Plan fall short in significant areas of the threshold that is required for a new beginning to Policing outlined by the Patten report.
``Specifically, these crucial areas include:
- The new Human Rights Oath
- The powers of the Policing Board
- The powers of the Chief Constable
- The powers of a British Secretary of State
- Representativeness of nationalists and republicans
- The Special Branch
- The remit of the Oversight Commissioner
- Plastic Bullets
- Specified Inquiries
``Claims that further changes can now be secured through the Policing Board and District Boards are bogus.
``The Board does not have the necessary powers to achieve these changes. And the unionist majority on the Boards, backed by the excessive powers of the Chief Constable and a British secretary of State will prevent change.
``The British Secretary of State is already publicly committed to no further changes to the Implementation Plan.
``This line by line exhaustive assessment of the Policing Act and Implementation Plan exposes the lie that the Implementation Plan brings the British government proposals on Policing into line with the Patten Recommendations.
``Few people will be fooled into believing that this substantial gap can be bridged by participation in the Police Board. It cannot. The Board has neither the power or the authority to do so. It can and will be over ridden by both the British Secretary of State and the Chief Constable.
``In addition, British government intransigence on this issue is highlighted by its refusal to deal now with amending legislation to the Policing Act.
``It has acknowledged that amendments are necessary but refuses to budge on this for at least one year. Obviously in the hope that it can then minimise the amendments.
``This is unacceptable. It is evidence of bad faith.
``If Mr. Blair accepts that amending legislation is required, and if he is serious about wanting to encourage nationalists and republicans to back this new service, why not deal with this issue now in an open, honest and transparent fashion? If the political will is there this could be resolved.
``In conclusion, the Policing Act and the Implementation Plan fail the reality test. Young nationalists will not join a force which will require them to work alongside human rights abusers, where they will be expected to use lethal force, including plastic bullets, against their neighbours, family and friends.
``They will not sit in heavily fortified military bases or take orders from securocrats who have and still are colluding with the UDA and others in sectarian attacks on catholic homes and areas and who have been undermining the Peace Process for months.
``So let there be no misunderstanding of our position.
- Sinn Fein will not be nominating to the Policing Board.
- Sinn Fein will be campaigning on the streets vigorously against these proposals.
- Sinn Fein will settle for nothing less than the new beginning to policing promised in the Good Friday Agreement.''
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