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Thursday, 30 August, 2001, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
Unionists split over policing support
The SDLP have signed up to the policing proposals
The political wrangle over the policing issue has continued with members of the Ulster Unionist Party publicly disagreeing over the way forward.

Assembly member Duncan Shipley-Dalton has called on his party to join the new police board, which will oversee the new service.

However, anti-agreement MP Jeffrey Donaldson has said the party should withhold their nominations until changes are made to the government's revised plan for implementing police reform.

Published earlier this month, the plan outlines in detail changes to be made to the Royal Ulster Constabulary as it is transformed into the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

David Trimble
David Trimble is to consult with his party

The nationalist SDLP is the only party to have signed up to the new board.

Mr Shipley-Dalton said it was churlish for the party, whose assembly group met at Stormont on Thursday, to run away from their responsibilities.

"Once the SDLP have made such a courageous decision on their part, we have a joint responsibility with them to ensure that the centre ground in Northern Ireland is represented," he said.

However, Jeffrey Donaldson said Mr Shipley-Dalton had got it wrong.

"Duncan is wrong, as he usually is in these things," said Mr Donaldson.

"I don't think it's time. I think we should be withholding our nominations until we get some changes to the implementation plan," he said.

Deal

Mr Donaldson has backed a call from the anti-Agreement Democratic Unionist Party, to boycott the board until the reform package has been made more acceptable to unionists.

And the DUP has re-iterated its call for unionist unity on the policing issue.

Speaking on Thursday, the DUP's East Londonderry MP, Gregory Campbell, said that by standing together, unionists could get the best deal on policing for the unionist community.

"We are saying to the Ulster Unionist Party that we have an opportunity now, both of us together to say to the government we have a series of demands, we have a shopping list which we want you to consider", he said.

Motives

But the chairman of the Ulster Unionist Party said it should be deeply cynical about the DUP's motives.

James Cooper said Ulster Unionists should not engage in an entirely negative debate about the issue.

"We are a party that is committed to a positive view of policing and we are a party that wants to see an early resolution to the problems of policing on the ground for the people of Northern Ireland," he told BBC Radio Ulster on Thursday.

Patricia Lewsely SDLP
Patricia Lewsely:"Stop using policing as a political football"

Earlier on Thursday the SDLP's Patricia Lewsley also urged other parties to "stop using policing as a political football that we have seen particularly in the Ulster Unionist camp."

"We have the substance and the spirit of Patten in the implementation plan and the only way that plan can be delivered to the people on the ground, to the communities that deserve it is by going on that policing board," she said.

Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid published the 75-page policing implementation plan on 17 August.

Sinn Fein has rejected the blueprint, which aims to redress the gap between the current policing proposals and the 175 recommendations made by the Patten Commission nearly two years ago.

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble has returned from a three-week holiday and will consult widely before deciding what to do about the Police Board.

Party officers are due to meet on Friday, and the party's executive will meet the following day, when its policing policy is due to be discussed.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's political correspondent Mark Simpson:
"There are mixed views in the Ulster Unionist Party about whether or not to join the new Police Board"
Read BBC News Online's full special report on policing reform in Northern Ireland

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18 Aug 01 | N Ireland
20 Aug 01 | N Ireland
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