28 January 2001
British Prime Minister needs to close the gaps on policing issues, Bloody Sunday rally told
Speaking at the annual Bloody Sunday commemoration in Derry City this afternoon, the Sinn Fein Mayor of Sligo, Alderman Seán MacManus, said that republicans will give ``a fair wind'' to a genuinely new beginning to policing as promised in the Good Friday Agreement. But he said that Sinn Fein will campaign vigorously against a ``repackaged'' RUC and will not accept ``half measures'' in a new beginning on policing.
Alderman MacManus was speaking at a rally from the Creggan to Free Derry Corner to commemorate the 14 Civil Rights marchers shot dead by the British Army's Parachute Regiment on January 30th 1972.
The Sinn Fein Ard Chomhairle member said that British Prime Minister Tony Blair needs to understand how critical and emotive policing is if he genuinely wants to persuade nationalists and republicans to sign up to policing. He said:
``The British Prime Minister needs to take the decisions that will close the gap around accountability, around getting rid of the mechanisms of repression, and take the steps necessary to give nationalists and republicans a sense of ownership of the new policing service.
``So, Mr Blair, it's over to you on these and other areas of concern.''
``In recent weeks we have once again witnessed numerous attacks carried out by the loyalist gangs against Catholics living in isolated areas, particularly in towns like Coleraine, Larne and Ballymena. Not surprisingly, the RUC has stood back and allowed this situation to develop and escalate. The situation in places like Larne underlines once again the absolute unacceptability of the RUC. They are part of a failed political entity. They cannot be part of a new future.
``The Good Friday Agreement promised us a new beginning to policing which must be realised. Nationalists and republicans will not accept half measures. Nationalists want - and deserve - an accountable and effective civic policing service.
``Sinn Fein has made clear, many times, that we want a new policing service and we will not settle for anything less. Nationalists and republicans want and need the security of a decent, democratic and accountable policing service. Sinn Fein had produced a comprehensive policing policy long before the Good Friday Agreement.
``We will consider and give a fair wind to alternative policing proposals. The Patten Report, if fully implemented, may give us the opportunity to do that. The Mandelson Policing Act does not. For the last two weeks, Sinn Fein has been involved in intense and detailed discussions with the British Government on the issues at the heart of the current crisis. These cover demilitarisation, the issue of arms, the permanency of the institutions and, of course, policing. Most of our discussions have centred on this issue.
``Sinn Fein has made clear that we are prepared to sign up to a genuinely new policing service and our objective is to make that possible - but if the British Government goes down the road of imposing the force envisaged under the current legislation then they should understand that Sinn Fein, the party that has campaigned for decades against repression and injustice, will campaign equally vigorously against a repackaged RUC.
``If Tony Blair genuinely wants to persuade republicans to sign up to policing then he needs to understand how critical, how emotive, how enormous this issue is. He needs to take the decisions that will close the gap around accountability, around getting rid of the mechanisms of repression, and take the steps necessary to give nationalists and republicans a sense of ownership of the new policing service. So, Mr Blair, it's over to you on these and other areas of concern.'' ENDS
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