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Tuesday, 16 October, 2001, 11:23 GMT 12:23 UK
Sinn Fein urged to back police reform
First recruits to new service will be on streets in Spring 2002
Recruits to new service will be on streets in Spring 2002
The vice chairman of the Policing Board in Northern Ireland has urged Sinn Fein to take up its seats on the board.

Sinn Fein is the only one of the four main parties in the province which has refused to take up its seats, as it does not endorse police reforms.

The Policing Board replaces the Northern Ireland Police Authority and its role is to scrutinise the chief constable and the running of the force.

Vice-chairman of the board Denis Bradley, who had a mediation role in pre-ceasefire contacts, said a detailed blueprint for a new policing force was already on the statue books.

Denis Bradley
Denis Bradley: Police Board vice-chairman

The former priest from Londonderry also said there was a "great willingness" to change among senior police officers.

"I'm very much hoping, I'm pleading to Sinn Fein: 'Now's the time to get on, look at these changes from the inside,'" he said.

"Not everything is perfect. But what's new? You've done it in the past about other things and you have been quite successful."

Police reform has been one of the most difficult issues facing the peace process.

However, the decision by the two main unionist parties to join the Police Board last month was a breakthrough in resolving the issue.

Appointment

The nationalist SDLP, Ulster Unionists and Democratic Unionists have now joined the board.

Its first meeting is expected to take place in the next few weeks.

The Policing Board is made up of 10 politicians and nine independent members.

The SDLP was the first of the parties to join it followed by the UUP and DUP.

Former director of the US Drug Enforcement Agency Tom Constantine was appointed police oversight commissioner in May 2000.

His job is to measure how policing reforms, which are part of the Good Friday Agreement, are implemented against the legislation that was passed.

The first batch of between 260-300 Police Service of Northern Ireland trainees - selected on a 50% Catholic 50% Protestant basis - began training in October and be on the streets by spring 2002.

See also:

29 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Police Board members announced
28 Aug 01 | Northern Ireland
SDLP defend support for policing plan
21 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Unionists sign up to Police Board
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