Belfast Telegraph

SDLP urge Sinn Fein to 'come clean on policing'

11 August 2004

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has been accused of sounding "like a broken record" after he said policing changes would be a crucial part of next month's push to revive Stormont.

Mr Adams said republicans want moves on "civic policing and democratic control of policing" to be one of the key developments of the upcoming talks.

He said the changes are necessary because acceptance of policing is "a bigger strategic compromise" for republicans than the Good Friday Agreement.

But SDLP policing spokesman Alex Attwood said Sinn Fein was just repeating itself.

"Adams said he is willing to call a special ard fheis if policing issues are dealt with. Last year, Mitchel McLaughlin said that if there was new legislation on policing Sinn Fein would not be found wanting.

"Adams's comments are a re-run of last year's, which came to absolutely nothing. Sinn Fein should come clean on policing. They have abandoned their mantra of more policing legislation.

"They have abandoned their slogan of disbanding Special Branch. Any issue of enduring concern they are claiming to have, the SDLP has the strategy to deal with it, whether it be plastic bullets, human rights offenders or anything else.

"In addition, it is the SDLP which is driving the campaign to undo the role of MI5 in the north, the big strategic issue, while Sinn Fein is silent.

"Sinn Fein should move on policing because it is past time to move, and not pretend that they have any enduring issues of substance."

Mr Adams also called for the rapid devolution of justice powers to the Assembly if the talks are successful.

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said his party is also in favour of devolved justice powers but did not back Mr Adams' timescale.

"It is not a case of whether it should be devolved but how it would be devolved and whether it can have the confidence of those who would enjoy the benefit of devolved policing and justice powers," Mr Robinson said.

"It is crucial that the exercising of powers is done in a way that the community accepts and in a way that they can have confidence and have confidence in the people exercising those powers," he added.

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