Tuesday, June 8, 1999 Published at 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK
RUC will not be disbanded - Mowlam
RUC: Rank and file fear for the future
The Northern Ireland Secretary has said the Royal Ulster Constabulary will not be disbanded.
Speaking at the annual conference of the Northern Ireland Police Federation in County Down, Mo Mowlam, made it clear that the Independent Commission on Policing will, however, recommend some changes.
"It has to be said these are very narrow views and the prime minister and I have made it clear that neither of these extreme options is possible."
Head of the Federation, Les Rodgers told the conference that Sinn Fein had co-ordinated an "evil conspiracy" to destroy the credibility of the RUC over the last year.
'Sinn Fein conspiracy'
He said members of the legal profession, the media and academia had wittingly and unwittingly supported the campaign, which was aimed at influencing the report of the Patten Commission on Policing Reform.
"My members have had enough of listening to these people crucify the work and sacrifice of the RUC."
Mr Rodgers also strongly rejected allegations of collusion with loyalists, which have led to calls for an inquiry into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane 10 years ago.
He said there was no evidence for this, and that the RUC had always found itself in the middle of the Catholic and Protestant communities, upholding the rule of law.
"We expect and we demand strong, unambiguous support from government and the community," he said. "We need to see more realism injected into what is going on and what lies ahead.
"Next month, the confrontation at Drumcree may well intensify. If we are not getting that vital backing, we can be down there, feeling like cannon fodder."
Responding to the allegations, Sinn Fein Assembly member Bairbre de Brun said the Federation is fighting a rearguard action to try to prevent changes being brought about by the Good Friday Agreement.
She said: "Its not just Sinn Fein, but the broader nationalist community want to see a new police service that they can have confidence in.
"The problems of the RUC stem from their own actions, their own history and their own present attitude, which has to change. There has to be a new policing service."
The nationalist SDLP said Mr Rodger's comments were typically hysterical in tone and content.
An SDLP spokesman said, "His denial of the extent of policing problems ill-prepares the police for forthcoming fundamental change.
"Police leaders should acknowledge the years of nationalist alienation from the police and accept what is wrong and what will be changed."
The Commission on policing is expected to publish its report in September, after the marching season.