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Congress turns screw on Patten

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

The U.S. Congress is piling pressure on the British government to fully implement the recommendations of the Patten Commission on policing in Northern Ireland.

A group of U.S. senators, headed by Edward Kennedy, introduced a non-binding Sense of the Senate resolution late last week that urged full implementation of the commission report.

The Senate move coincided with a letter, signed by 122 members of the House of Representatives, which was sent to Northern Ireland Secretary of State Peter Mandelson. The letter also urged full implementation of the Patten Commission’s recommendations.

The Senate resolution was introduced by Kennedy together with Sens. Chris Dodd, Patrick Leahy and Connie Mack.

In referring to the draft policing bill recently presented to the British parliament by Mandelson — the bill is intended to give effect to Patten’s police reform recommendations — the senators said that "unfortunately" it did not live up to the letter or the spirit of the Patten report.

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In a statement, Kennedy said that the Sense of the Senate resolution underlined the view that the full and speedy implementation of the Patten Commission recommendations held the best hope that the police service in Northern Ireland would be supported by both nationalists and unionists.

The House letter, drafted by Reps. Richard Neal, Joe Crowley, Sam Gejdenson, Pete King, Ben Gilman and Martin Meehan, urged that the Patten recommendations be implemented in full.

The congressmen urged Mandelson to take heed of Patten’s own warning against "cherry-picking" his report.

"We share his belief that the recommendations represent a package which must be implemented comprehensively if Northern Ireland is to have the policing arrangements it needs," the congressmen said.

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