Category: Archive

British trying to stop policing hearings?

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Susan Falvella-Garraty

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House Committee on International Relations will hold a hearing next week on policing in Northern Ireland, which, sources say, British officials have lobbied to have postponed. A British diplomat in Washington denied the accusation.

"New and Acceptable Policing for Northern Ireland," is the title of the open hearing scheduled before Chairman Ben Gilman’s committee on April 22.

"We’ve been told by the British that this is a bad time to hold hearings because of the way the talks are going right now," said one congressional staffer. Another congressional aide said, "Tell me when the British think there is going to be a ‘right time’ to hold congressional hearings into the RUC — never."

The British Embassy spokesman, Peter Reid, categorically denied that there has been pressure applied in an effort to delay the hearing.

"That’s absolutely ridiculous," he said.

Follow us on social media

Keep up to date with the latest news with The Irish Echo

To be sure, British Northern Secretary Mo Mowlam made it clear to congressional members during her visit here over St. Patrick’s Day that she did not think it wise to hold hearings into the RUC before the release of the Patton Commission’s findings. The Patton Commission was appointed to examine the effectiveness of Northern Ireland’s police force.

The commission is not due to release its findings until the end of the summer.

"Should we wait for another Rosemary Nelson before some type of light is shined on the situation," an aide to one member of Congress said.

Rosemary Nelson was a lawyer in Lurgan who was killed last month in a car bombing near her home by loyalists, apparently because she represented many high-profile Republican defendants. Nelson, the mother of three, had testified last September on Capitol Hill that she had been threatened by members of the RUC.

A resolution asking for a judicial inquiry into her murder will be marked up in committee this week and is expected to be voted on by the full House next week. The resolution is somewhat symbolic since no action can be taken by Congress to compel such an inquiry.

White House ready

And as talks resumed in Belfast on Tuesday in an effort to revive the faltering peace process, the White House said it was ready and willing to lend a hand.

"The president remains committed," said a White House spokesman, P.J. Crowley.

The White House has been careful not to completely support the Ahern-Blair statement put forward last month that stated that Sinn Fein should receive its two allotted posts in the Executive if IRA decommissioning were to take place within a month.

Officials here have only restated their past wish that the letter and the spirit of the Good Friday accord be observed by all sides. In the past, senior members of the Clinton administration have emphasized that they do not see the linkage between the need for the IRA to hand in weapons in order for Sinn Fein to take its positions at Stormont.

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese