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Thursday, July 8, 1999 Published at 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK


US report urges 'dramatic' RUC reform

New US Congress report calls for dramatic reform of the RUC

A group of influential US Congressmen has called for a dramatic overhaul of the RUC during a visit to Belfast.

Members of the International Relations Committee of the US Congress issued a report at a news conference in which they concluded major reform of the force was needed to secure the Northern Ireland peace process.

[ image: Congressman Peter King: RUC reform necessary for peace process]
Congressman Peter King: RUC reform necessary for peace process
"There has to be a dramatic and drastic reform and restructuring of the RUC - if not the abolition of the RUC itself, " said Congressman Peter King, pointing out that Congressional leaders, both Republican and Democrat, concurred with the findings of the report.

He added: "It is not enough just to change it around the edges."

Congressman Ben Gilman of New York said that there had never been a police service which was truly acceptable to nationalists and the current ethos of the RUC must be eradicated.

He also revealed that the US Congress delegation had met with the Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan and also with disabled police officers.

'Partisan and bigoted'

The Search for Peace
Ulster Unionist security spokesman Ken Maginnis MP attacked the credibility of one of the delegation's members.

"It is surprising that anyone should consider giving credence to anything which Congressman Peter King might say," he said.

"His partisan and bigoted attitude to unionists has, throughout many years of violence, consistently encouraged and sustained the worst elements of militant republicanism."

The report has also been slammed by the Chairman of the Police Federation, Les Rodgers, who charged that the delegation had failed to respond to invitations to meet RUC officers and their families.

"Their only concern is for the Irish American vote," said Mr Rodgers.

"They have a closed mind and little to contribute that is either objective or useful to the future of policing in Northern Ireland."

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