SDLP Conference
Attwood accuses Sinn Féin over policing

During the SDLP debate at the party’s conference in Derry on Saturday, SDLP Policing Spokesperson and West Belfast MLA Alex Attwood accused Sinn Féin of having “no credible policing agenda’’.

Mr Attwood said that despite their talk, the republican party is not serious about policing.

“The SDLP has long urged Sinn Féin to sign up for policing,” said Mr Attwood.

“When the Chair of Sinn Féin said in early Autumn 2002 that Sinn Féin would not be found wanting if new policing legislation was passed, some believed Sinn Féin were preparing to shift ground.

“In the spring of 2002, the new legislation was passed. Sinn Féin balked. No surprise. No courage. And now Sinn Féin have no credible policing agenda.

“Patten is being implemented and no-one but Sinn Féin claims otherwise.

People across the North sit on DPPs and join the police, despite the threats of some and demonising by others. The community, ahead of some of its leadership, reaches out to test policing.

“Despite the talk, Sinn Féin are not serious about policing. “How can they be when their Chairperson says that the murder of a mother is not a crime? How can they be when their Chairperson says bank robberies committed by the IRA would not be a crime? How can they be when their Chairperson advises people not to provide information to the police about Omagh, the biggest crime in our recent history?”

The West Belfast MLA asked delegates what did all this mean.

“It means that the IRA view themselves as a lawful authority though they are a criminal gang. It means the IRA can steal and smuggle to fund their lifestyles, while others have to toil and struggle just to get by. It means that every IRA abuse of human rights can be justified, while everyone else is to be properly judged against international human rights standards.

“And it means that the IRA view all of this as the way things are and the way they intend things to be.”

Mr Attwood said that this is a corruption of what democracy is meant to be.The more democratic nationalism hears and sees all of this, he said, let the IRA understand the greater the resolve of democrats to resist all of this.

“These conditions make the work of the SDLP on policing even more essential and more critical. It is vital to the IRA that lawful authority is not fully established and that policing is not fully legitimised. If this comes to pass, the IRA lose authority, criminality is threatened and the law and lawful authority prevails.

“Getting policing right is not only about proper, representative, civilian policing that deals with crime and criminals. That is a big part of Patten.

“ That is what the SDLP do every day on the DPPs and the Policing Board.
“But it is also about establishing that the law and lawful authority shall prevail in a democratic Ireland.

“It is about the day of the criminal gang, the day of the self-appointed few dictating what happens outside a pub in the Markets or any other part of Ireland, the day of those who dare challenge the right of the people of Ireland to determine their own future is over and will not return.”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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