[Sinn Fein]

26th September 1999

Sinn Fein appoint Commission on Policing

The Sinn Fein Ard Chomhairle met over the weekend in Donegal for two days of intense discussions around the Mitchell Review, the Patten Report into Policing and how to build on the electoral success achieved by the party earlier this year. Following a full and frank discussion on the Patten Report a sub-committee was appointed by an Ard Chomhairle - to be called a Commission on Policing - to engage with and monitor the discussion on this issue within the party.

Speaking after the Ard Chomhairle meeting Sinn Fein Vice President Pat Doherty said:

``Sinn Fein's attitude to the Patten report will be set clearly in the context of our desire to see the RUC replaced by meaningful transitional arrangements pending the creation of all-Ireland policing structures.

``Any judgement of the Patten Report will also be set in the context of the Good Friday Agreement which set the agenda for Patten and which spoke of; ``a new beginning to policing ... with a police service capable of attracting and sustaining support from the community as a whole''.

``Any police service is affected by the political context in which it operates. The Good Friday Agreement envisaged a new beginning to policing in the context of a radically altered political environment.

``The fundamental political changes envisaged in the Good Friday Agreement have not yet been brought about. These changes need to happen if the context for a new beginning to policing is to be created.

``We are mindful also that at this juncture and 18 months after the Good Friday Agreement that all repressive legislation remains intact and operable; that the British government have yet to publicise their strategy for demilitarisation as agreed on Good Friday; the report of the review of the criminal justice system is pending; and allegations of abuses, which are of enormous concern to nationalists and in particular allegations of collusion in the deaths of nationalists by British government agencies, are not being pro-actively addressed. The RUC remains a major problem in nationalist areas.

``Recognising the critical importance of the policing issue to the widespread hope and desire for a permanent peace; given the intense public discussion which the Patten Report has already generated, and wishing to come to this matter in a thoughtful, considered and constructive way, the Ard Chomhairle has decided to appoint a sub-committee.

``It's task will be to engage with and monitor the processing of this issue and to report back to the Ard Chomhairle. The Commission would also have to scrutinise any legislation which the British Government enacts. In the meantime the Ard Chomhairle will continue to pro-actively engage with the two governments.

Mr Doherty continued:

``The Ard Chomhairle also discussed the current state of the peace process and the review of the Good Friday Agreement being carried out by Senator Mitchell. Many see this review as the last real chance for rescuing the Good Friday Agreement.

``Sinn Fein is wholeheartedly committed to the full implementation of the Agreement. The seriousness with which we have approached the review and the detailed submission we made to it, are evidence of our desire to achieve the establishment of the institutions and progress across all other aspects of the Agreement. Regrettably, at this time we see no evidence to suggest that the UUP leadership is serious about ending the crisis. It's tactical engagement has grievously undermined the Agreement and heightened the sense of gloom which is currently widespread.

``In the remaining weeks of Senator Mitchell's review Sinn Fein will seek to persuade the UUP leadership that the Good Friday Agreement remains our best chance for a peaceful future and that republicans are ready and willing to work with them in partnership to achieve that goal.''

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