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Haass urges Adams to support police

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Anne Cadwallader

BELFAST — The U.S. special envoy to Northern Ireland, Richard Haass, has pledged his support to the new policing arrangements in Northern Ireland and has urged Sinn Fein to join the Police Board and change it from within.

Speaking after a meeting Thursday ith the Sinn Fein president, Haass said both sides had agreed to disagree and remained in close dialogue. The test of that dialogue, he said, was not agreement but a continuing exchange of views to bridge the gap.

Attending a special meeting of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, Haass was briefed by its chairman, Professor Desmond Rea, who also presented him with one of the new cap badges, agreed by the board.

After an hour-long meeting with Adams at Stormont, Haass repeated his view that republicans would be in a better position to influence policing reform from the inside.

“I thought, perhaps as an American, the best way to influence political institutions tends to be from within the inside. It’s a way of exerting your influence. We essentially in that case agreed to disagree. I respect his position, I think he respects mine.”

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Haass said that, with more Catholics joining the police board, he believed it would evolve over time. “This was not something cast in cement,” he said. “It had the potential to change like any other institutions in any other society.”

The special envoy denied that relations with the U.S. administration and Sinn Fein had become cooler over Adams’s recent trip to Cuba or his refusal to sign up to policing. He indicated the two men were in regular contact by phone and would meet again in a few weeks when the Sinn Fein president visits New York.

Speaking after the meeting Adams insisted that Sinn Fein’s position on refusing to join the board was the right one. “I put it to the ambassador that the U.S. had a role to play in trying to create a policing board that people could have some confidence in,” he said.

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