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Helms still wary of Senate RUC move

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon and Susan Falvella-Garraty

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the 106th Congress winds to a close this week, a Senate resolution backing the Patten Commission’s recommendations for police reform in Northern Ireland remains stuck in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The resolution’s main sponsor in Sen. Edward Kennedy. Its main critic at this juncture is Sen. Jesse Helms, the North Carolina Republican who chairs the committee.

Helms reportedly has problems with some of the wording in the resolution.

Kennedy has been attempting to match his resolution to a similar measure earlier passed unanimously in the House of Representatives.

That resolution was enthusiastically endorsed by leading GOP members, including House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and Rep. Ben Gilman, chairman of the House International Relations Committee.

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The Senate, not for the first time, is proving to be a somewhat different prospect for a measure focused on Northern Ireland.

A spokesman for Kennedy told the Echo Tuesday that Kennedy was still hopeful that there would be a resolution of the impasse before Congress winds up for the Nov. 7 elections.

That adjournment is expected now to come at the end of this week, although a couple of earlier adjournment deadlines have fallen by the wayside in the last couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, the White House has indicated its desire to see Northern Ireland’s upcoming Policing Bill resemble

the original Patten findings as closely as possible.

"It is critical that both communities be able to be become part of the whatever police organization is formed in the future," said a White House official. "And we all know that is not going to be easy for anyone."

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