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Wednesday, 13 November, 2002, 13:13 GMT
New plans on policing reform
The queen delivering her speech in the House of Lords
The Queen announced details of government plans
New legislation on policing in Northern Ireland is to be brought forward in the next term of Parliament.

The plans were announced during the Queen's speech at the state opening of Parliament on Wednesday.

The SDLP's policing spokesman, Alex Attwood, said the new legislation would be aimed at strengthening the powers of the Policing Board and the Police Ombudsman.

He said it proved Sinn Fein had "got it wrong" over policing while the SDLP had been vindicated in its decision to back the policing reforms.

SDLP's Alex Attwood
SDLP vindicated says Alex Attwood

"We now need to have the legislation tabled quickly and passed quickly in order to build on the achievements in the last year by the Policing Board and the PSNI," said Mr Attwood.

"Sinn Fein said we would get no commitments but this shows otherwise."

But Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly said there was still no commitment from the government to implement the Patten recommendations on policing reform in full.

"Today's speech offered the British Government an opportunity to say they would do this. They haven't done that," he said.

"The British Government's intent will ultimately be judged by the quality of their legislative amendments and whether they bring the current act in line with Patten."

David Trimble:
David Trimble: "Concessions must not be made to republicans"

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble said he intended to scrutinise the detail of the new policing legislation.

Speaking to the BBC at Westminster Mr Trimble said it would be "quite wrong for the government to make any move on policing which amounted to a concession to republicans".

Mr Trimble added that some of the proposed measures outlined in the Queen's speech to be introduced in England and Wales, such as tougher restrictions on anti-social behaviour, should apply in Northern Ireland.

Agreement pledge

The new legislation has emerged from pledges made in the revised Patten Implementation Plan, published by the government in August last year.

That scheme followed talks between the British and Irish governments and the pro-Agreement parties at Weston Park in Staffordshire the previous month.

The Queen's speech also reaffirmed the government's commitment to the Good Friday Agreement, despite the current crisis over alleged IRA activity that has led to the suspension of devolution.

Speaking in the House of Lords, she said: "In Northern Ireland, my government will continue to work closely with the political parties and the Irish Government to secure the full implementation of the Belfast Agreement."

Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy will announce details of plans for talks between the governments and the political parties later on Wednesday.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's political editor Mark Devenport:
"Measures for England and Wales could be applied in N Ireland after a period of consultation"
Read BBC News Online's full special report on policing reform in Northern Ireland

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