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Monday, 19 November, 2001, 19:30 GMT
Unionists reject police badge design
The designs use symbols including the flax flower
The designs use symbols including the flax flower
Unionists have rejected the emblems for the new Police Service of Northern Ireland on the day seven different ideas for designs were published.

The designs use symbols including the flax flower - symbolic of Northern Ireland's history as a linen producer - a bridge and a star.

There is also a heraldic shield design and a St Patrick's Cross emblem.

Neither the crown nor harp used in the old Royal Ulster Constabulary badge are included.

In a letter to the Policing Board, Northern Ireland Security Minister Jane Kennedy said the designs had been drawn up "to assist the board in their consideration of this important matter".

Jane Kennedy:
Jane Kennedy: "Designs are to assist board's choice"
She added: "The designs by no means cover all the possibilities.

"The board may well have ideas of their own."

The government has said it wants responses to the new proposals by Friday 14 December.

'Bland'

Ulster Unionist peer Lord Kilclooney of Armagh (John Taylor) said as a member of the Policing Board he had been treated with contempt by the secretary of state.

"The secretary of state has pre-empted us and I think he has now made it impossible for the board to reach any agreement on this subject," he said.

Lord Kilclooney said none of the design ideas were acceptable and ran contrary to the Good Friday Agreement.

The Democratic Unionist Party's Ian Paisley Junior said all the designs were "meaningless".

"We have very good symbols as it exists - we have the harp, the crown and indeed the shamrock," he said.

"But all those things are now considered not acceptable and we have the complete ruination of anything British or anything which links the police service to the British connection."

The legislation under which the RUC changed to the Police Service of Northern Ireland this month gives the Policing Board the power to come to an agreement on the new service's emblems.

If the board, which has a membership of ten political and nine non-political representatives, cannot come to agreement, the secretary of state will make the decision.

Neutral working environment

It is also expected to consider proposals regarding how and when flags can fly over Northern Ireland police stations.

Under the Patten recommendations, on which the plans for widespread changes to policing were based, police emblems and stations are to be politically and religiously neutral.

John Reid will make final decision if board can not agree
John Reid will make final decision if board can not agree
The Policing Board has replaced the Northern Ireland Police Authority and will work to oversee the new service and can hold the chief constable to account.

Representatives of three of the four main political parties have seats on the board.

The Ulster Unionist Party, the nationalist SDLP and the Democratic Unionist Party all nominated members to the board in September. Sinn Fein refused to take their seats on the board.

Its chairman is Professor Desmond Rea.

After the police name change on 4 November, the province's Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan admitted that some of the visual changes to the new service would take time.

Police officers working on the ground are still having to wear their old uniforms and are waiting for their new cap badge to be chosen.

The first batch of between 260-300 Police Service of Northern Ireland trainees - selected on a 50% Catholic, 50% Protestant and others basis - started their training on 4 November. They are also waiting for their first full PSNI uniform.

Sinn Fein North Belfast assembly member Gerry Kelly said: "The Patten Report was very clear and unambiguous on this issue.

"It said: That the Northern Ireland Police Service adopt a new badge and symbols which are entirely free from any association with either the British or Irish states.... that the Union flag should no longer be flown from police buildings.

"The British Government should have dealt with this issue last year when it published the legislation. Despite the unnecessary delay around this issue it should now do so.

"Sinn Fein will make a submission to the British Government on this issue and our benchmark will be the Patten Report recommendations."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI political editor Mark Devenport
reports on unionist reaction to the emblem designs
BBC NI political correspondent Mark Simpson:
"The government has come up with seven possibilities for a badge"
Lord Kilclooney of Armagh:
"The secretary of state has pre-empted us"
Read BBC News Online's full special report on policing reform in Northern Ireland

Key stories

Background

OTHER SPECIAL REPORTS
See also:

04 Nov 01 | N Ireland
29 Sep 01 | N Ireland
21 Sep 01 | N Ireland
12 Sep 01 | N Ireland
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