18th February 2003
British government can be moved further on Policing
Sinn Fein Policing spokesperson Gerry Kelly MLA has accused the SDLP's Alex Attwood of living in a political fantasy world. Mr. Kelly said:
``The issue of policing is crucial and is at the core of Sinn Fein's current negotiations with both governments. That negotiation is made all the more difficult because the SDLP have already accepted policing arrangements that fall far short of the Patten recommendations. As so often in the past, the SDLP settled for too little. The reality is that the majority of the nationalist community, represented by Sinn Fein, do not have confidence in the present policing arrangements.
``Sinn Fein wants to see a policing service that is:
- free from partisan political control
- imbued with a human rights ethos
- civic rather than military in nature
- routinely unarmed
``We would have liked the Patten recommendations to go further. But we believe that Patten, implemented in full, could provide a minimum threshold from which to achieve acceptable policing.
``The current draft legislation is an improvement on the Police Act 2000. These changes were hard won. Sinn Fein argued for new legislation while the SDLP at the time said that this was unachievable. It is bizarre that they are now claiming the legislation which they said at the time could not be achieved.
``We did achieve legislation - we need now to get the full package right. The draft legislation does not do this - it still falls short of Patten in key areas.
``Sinn Fein wants to reach a situation of acceptable policing. We believe that it is achievable. The British government has already been moved significantly, not by the pretence that what we have is Patten but by the rejection by the nationalist community of arrangements which fall short of Patten. The British government can be moved further. That is our approach in the current negotiations.''
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