SF 'faces challenge over police reforms'

06/03/2005 - 14:08:42

Sinn Féin has warned its supporters to brace themselves for a new beginning to policing in Northern Ireland, it emerged today.

Delegates at the annual conference in Dublin were told that if democratically accountable policing is achieved, the party will face fundamental challenges.

Party justice spokesman Gerry Kelly said that a special delegate conference would be called if the party reaches its objectives under the Patten Report.

He said: “It is not an impossible task and republicans need to be acutely aware that if the Republican leadership achieves the objectives set in this area then this in turn will raise fundamental questions and problems for all activists.

“There is a public commitment if we reach that point to then put a changed policy to our membership and to nationalism as a whole.

“While we are at a substantial distance from that point yet, activists need to realise that we can achieve it and with achievement there is responsibility.”

The party was today debating policing motions during which it rejected calls for a boycott of policing initiatives, but delegates passed a motion calling for the Special Branch detective unit in the Republic to be disbanded.

Speaking on republican participating in policing, Mr Kelly added: “Nobody said it would be easy.

"Here is the challenge facing us.

“As political activists we must rethink strategically, debate strategically and decide what is best for our party.

“But we will pursue proper policing and justice with all our energy.”

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