::: u.tv :::

SUNDAY 29/02/2004 12:39:52 UTV


The transfer of policing and justice powers from Westminster to
Stormont is essential to securing republican involvement in policing
in Northern Ireland, a senior Sinn Fein figure said today.

By:Press Association

Policing spokesman Gerry Kelly told the party`s annual conference in
Dublin there was still much work to be done before republicans could
get involved, with a third act of Parliament required in Westminster
to transfer power.

But he also admitted republicans feared getting policing ``horribly
wrong`` once it had been achieved.

The North Belfast Assembly member said: ``Critical to the new
beginning of policing and justice is the issue of the transfer of
powers to Ireland through the local Assembly, the executive and
hence into an all-Ireland context through the all-Ireland

``But transfer of powers is also crucial because it is the only way
that control of policing and justice can ultimately be wrested out
of the hands of British securocrats in London and the NIO (Northern
Ireland Office) who have run policing as a paramilitary force for

``The transfer of powers will require the enactment of a third
Parliamentary act by the British Government, surrendering power on
policing and justice matters which are currently controlled by the
NIO and by London.

``Without transfer, policing and justice will remain unaccountable
and a tool of repression.``

Among the issues Mr Kelly said still needed to resolved were:

:: A ban on plastic bullets, with an accountability mechanism set up
in the meantime to make British soldiers who fire them answerable.

:: Additional resources for Northern Ireland`s Police Ombudsman
Nuala O`Loan to carry on her work.

:: Commitments to boost the number of Catholics in the police

:: The publication by the British Government of retired Canadian
judge Peter Cory`s report on four controversial killings during the
Troubles - the murders of solicitors Pat Finucane and Rosemary
Nelson, Catholic father of three Robert Hamill and Loyalist
Volunteer Force leader Billy Wright.

:: Acknowledgement by the British Government of alleged collusion
between the security forces in Northern Ireland and loyalist terror

Mr Kelly said there was also a resistance to change amongst some in
the police.

This could be seen by the regrouping of members of the Royal Ulster
Constabulary in various branches of the Police Service of Northern
Ireland like ``the new variations of Special Branch such as REMIT.``

The North Belfast MLA noted unionists, British politicians and
sometimes other nationalists had accused Sinn Fein of being
``insatiable`` in its demands for policing.

``Let me be clear,`` he said.

``Those who have suffered from bad policing want proper policing
more than anyone else.

``That includes me, the parents of Holy Cross, the residents of the
Short Strand or north Belfast or south Armagh or Tyrone, sex crime
victims, drugs victims, car crime victims, victims and survivors of
collusion and all the others who want a better way of life who want
justice on an equal footing.``

Mr Kelly said unionists were afraid of losing ``their police
force,`` whether it was the PSNI or RUC.

But he admitted: ``If we are honest, republicans too have a fear of
achieving the new beginning to policing.

``We fear getting it horribly wrong. Our whole lives have been in
rebellion against a police force in rebellion against us.

``The whole idea of a police service in the Six Counties (Northern
Ireland), transitional or otherwise is a massive debate.``

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