[Sinn Fein]

25th February 2002

Special Branch - Still a `Force within a Force'

Speaking today at the launch of his party's latest poster campaign highlighting the role of Special Branch in the current policing arrangements Sinn Fein spokesperson on Policing Gerry Kelly said:

`` Last year, when it became clear that the British government was not prepared to deliver the Good Friday agreement requirements for a new beginning to Policing, we said we would mount a vigorous public campaign to achieve an acceptable policing service. Today is the latest stage in that.

`` Let me be very clear, Sinn Fein want to see a new policing service which we can support and call upon people to join.

`` A police service needs to be;

`` This is what the Agreement requires.

`` We have not got that.

`` A glaring gap between the Patten recommendations and the current arrangements is the failure to deal with Human Rights Abusers and in particular the failure to deal with what Patten described as `a force within a force' - the Special Branch.

`` The freedom of action afforded the Special Branch by the British government is at the core of what remains wrong with Policing.

`` Democratic accountability is a key requirement of widespread acceptability. But the Special Branch remain `a force within a force'.

`` The Special Branch remain at the heart of the current policing structures and is untouchable. The Policing Board does not have the power or the authority to tackle the Special Branch or curb its influence.

`` Our campaign and our engagement with the governments will continue until we achieve a new beginning to policing. We will not sell our community short. Society cannot afford to be sold short on this issue. We will not accept a policing arrangement dominated by the Special Branch and answerable only to other the securocrats who control them.''

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