By Anne Cadwallader
and Harry Keaney
BELFAST — The Royal Ulster Constabulary will not be disbanded, but will have a new name, uniform, badge and oath, and be accountable to representatives of all political parties elected to a new police board, according to leaks from the report of the Patten Commission on the future of Northern Ireland’s controversial force.
Ulster Unionists reacted furiously to the leaks of the long-awaited report, which is due to be published on Sept. 9, saying that, if true, it would come close to disbandment of the force.
The commission, chaired by Chris Patten, the former British governor of Hong Kong, was given the task to develop an acceptable police force, representative, accountable, unarmed and civilian, and which conforms to human rights standards.
A few months ago, the eight-member commission paid a two-week visit to U.S. and Canadian police departments. Dublin-born John Timoney, a former NYPD commissioner and now police commissioner in Philadelphia, was among those who met with the Patten delegation when they visited New York. Composition, minority recruitment and how to attract good quality candidates were all subjects broached in discussions here, Timoney told the Echo.
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Last weekend’s leaked details of the report brought dire warnings from some senior Ulster Unionists that Patten’s recommendations could deal the "final blow" to the Good Friday peace agreement.
According to published details outlined Wednesday: