Category: Archive

Policing: moving closer to agreement

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

No one is rushing to embrace the changes, though both nationalist parties, the SDLP and Sinn Fein, have noted positive things about them. The SDLP in particular can feel a certain amount of satisfaction that of the 14 amendments they suggested during the Weston Park negotiations in July 2001, 12 are represented in the proposals announced by the Northern Ireland secretary of state Paul Murphy on Monday.
The SDLP is to be congratulated for not taking a rejectionist approach and staying in there to work to see its vision of a balanced, credible and accountable new police service for Northern Ireland slowly bearing fruit.
Meanwhile, though Sinn Fein has rejected the new reforms as inadequate, its leading spokesmen have tried to put as upbeat a spin on it as possible, proclaiming that even if the latest moves do not solve the problem of policing, a solution to that problem is now within reach.
The British have met nationalist demands on matters such as strengthening the role of the ombudsman, and giving the Policing Board more oversight. But it has held back on the two items that top the Sinn Fein wish list: the recruitment of ex-paramilitary prisoners onto the District Policing Partnerships, for the 26 local council areas, and breaking up of Belfast into four separate DPPs, one for each distinctive area of the city.
Not surprisingly, London is waiting to see what the republican movement will do first before moving on these sensitive and contentious proposals. The British government’s attitude is that these reforms are impossible as long as the paramilitaries, especially the IRA, continue to flourish. After all, it is they who run West and North Belfast. It would be na

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