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Thursday, 29 August, 2002, 12:04 GMT 13:04 UK
Resign threat over policing
The Northern Ireland Policing board
Sinn Fein does not sit on the Policing Board
An Ulster Unionist member of the Policing Board has threatened to resign his post.

Fred Cobain said on Thursday his party's position on the board would be untenable if the government moved to meet republican demands for further police reforms.

Earlier this week, Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin indicated his party would join the Policing Board if current policing legislation was amended.

He said the government would have to implement all the reforms proposed by former Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten, who carried out a review of policing in Northern Ireland.

Fred Cobain
Fred Cobain: Position could be untenable
But Mr Cobain said Sinn Fein should not be rewarded for boycotting the board while he and his colleagues had to make compromises to join last year.

"You have to say that ourselves, the DUP and SDLP have compromised our own positions to sit on the board.

"If republicans are going to be rewarded for intransigence and get everything they want, then it clearly undermines our position on the board and I don't think it would be fair for us to remain," he said.


Speaking on Wednesday, Mitchel McLaughlin said Sinn Fein had "secured a commitment from Tony Blair that he will introduce amending legislation that will bring the policing arrangements up to the minimum threshold of Patten".

"That will be a significant development and it will be a challenge that Sinn Fein will rise to when and if that happens.

"When and if he gets round to making these necessary amendments to the legislation, and producing and delivering on his commitment to Patten, then Sinn Fein will step up to the mark," he said.
SDLP leader Mark Durkan
Mark Durkan criticised Sinn Fein

SDLP leader Mark Durkan accused Sinn Fein of trying to play both sides of the policing debate.

"On the one hand, Sinn Fein has appeared quite prepared to dangle speculation that it is going to face up to its responsibility and go on the board and on the other, it has been quite eager to indulge in propaganda against those participating in the policing arrangements.

"Mitchel McLaughlin's comments are interesting because he has indicated that provided the policing legislation is amended as Tony Blair has committed himself to, Sinn Fein will go on the board.

"Those commitments were made at the Weston Park talks last year on the basis of the efforts of the SDLP and the Irish Government."

Sinn Fein is the only one of Northern Ireland's four main parties which has refused to accept Northern Ireland's new policing arrangements following the changeover from the Royal Ulster Constabulary to the Police Service of Northern Ireland last November.

North Belfast Assemblyman Fred Cobain:
"If republicans are going to continue to be intransigent it undermines our position on the board"
Read BBC News Online's full special report on policing reform in Northern Ireland

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See also:

16 Oct 01 | N Ireland
21 Aug 02 | N Ireland
30 May 02 | N Ireland
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