Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein leader hints at joining Policing Board
McLaughlin condemns death threats to DPP members

By Jonathan McCambridge

20 September 2003
SINN Fein chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin today gave the clearest indication yet his party will take its place on the Policing Board in the near future as another District Policing Partnership member was forced to resign.

Moya Burns (35), a solicitor, stood down as an independent member of the Down partnership - she is the third DPP member to resign in the province in just over a week.

It is understood that no specific threat had been made against Ms Burns, but there have been a series of instances of threats and intimidation against DPP and Policing Board members recently from dissident republicans.

Eamonn O'Neill, vice-chairman of Down DPP, said: "Although all members of Down DPP will miss Ms Burns, it will not deter the partnership from its job of ensuring the community has a voice in establishing policing priorities across the district."

Mr McLaughlin was responding to recent comments from Policing Board vice-chairman Denis Bradley that Sinn Fein would soon join.

He said: "I happen to be confident we can resolve those difficulties and we will join the policing board when we get it right."

He also hit out at threats against DPP members, saying the intimidation was "cowardly, counter-productive and stupid".

Meanwhile, SDLP deputy leader Brid Rodgers has called on the IRA to make it clear they are not involved in any of the threats.

"I know there is still suspicion in one area that individual members of the IRA are involved; what would help would be for the IRA to make a clear statement that they are not involved and it is wrong."

A statement signed by 17 priests in Derry said the time had come for the Catholic people of the North West to speak out against the threats.

"This is not some other person's battle. This is our battle for it affects our lives and will affect the lives of generations to come.

"We cannot desert those who are struggling to create a safe and secure place for all of us to live."

Two other DPP members have also resigned in the last 10 days.

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