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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 March, 2004, 22:22 GMT
Sinn Fein denies US presuure
Mr McGuinness said there was no sense of being under pressure
Mr McGuinness said there was no sense of being under pressure
Sinn Fein has said it is not under pressure from the White House to sign up to policing and get the IRA to stop illegal activity.

The party's Martin McGuinness denied the claim by Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble.

Sinn Fein took out an advertisement in the New York Times on Monday condemning the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

In the $25,000 advertisement, the party said it wanted policing but insisted the new service was deeply flawed.

Mr McGuinness was speaking after meeting the US special envoy Mitchell Reiss in Washington.

"We haven't been under any pressure at all," he said.

"I have been with Mitchell Reiss this morning and had a very cordial meeting and I have no doubt whatsoever that he will have a very useful contribution to make in the course of the coming period.

"But there was no sense whatsoever of being under pressure. Gerry Adams and I will be in the White House tomorrow and we will continue with our engagements.

"I think we are speaking to an administration that understands the vital importance of getting the Good Friday Agreement implemented."

Earlier, the Police Ombudsman said she sensed a change of culture within Northern Ireland's police service.

Speaking in the United States on Tuesday, Nuala O'Loan said there had been a drop in the more serious types of complaints against its officers.

This included complaints of a mis-use of force.

She also told a Security Commission meeting in Washington there had been a decrease in the numbers of complaints - from more than 3,500 in 2001 to just under 3,000 last year.

Mrs O'Loan also said she believed the PSNI was now moving towards real community-based policing.

More officers were coming forward about wrongdoing and to give evidence against their fellow officers, she said.

This was the "true face of modern policing", said Mrs O'Loan.

"There are corrupt and violent police officers in most forces, but there are also those who act justly and with integrity and courage and who are prepared to be seen to do what is right."

She was speaking at a meeting of the United States/Helsinki Commission on Security Cooperation in Europe.

Hugh Orde spoke of the
I think people will judge us on how we deliver, and what we've delivered over the past year is crime reduction, community confidence, district policing partnerships
Hugh Orde

Earlier, Chief Constable Hugh Orde said a positive message about the new police service in Northern Ireland was being heard in the United States.

The Bush Administration has been encouraging support for the new police service, but Sinn Fein is resisting pressure to sign up.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland came into existence in November 2001 and replaced the Royal Ulster Constabulary, as part of sweeping reforms to policing under the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Orde, who is attending St Patrick's Day festivities in Washington, said this was not the impression being formed in America.

"I think people will judge us on how we deliver, and what we've delivered over the past year is crime reduction, community confidence, district policing partnerships.

"I think people will judge us for what we've done rather than what people say."

Before leaving for America last week, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said major problems on policing would have to be solved before republicans would endorse the new arrangements.

The West Belfast MP said he would lobby American support for a policing policy in the province in line with the Good Friday Agreement.

He said the PSNI was unrepresentative, and accused the Policing Board of not holding members of the police service to account.

Sinn Fein has boycotted the new policing structures, insisting the government's policing reforms need to go further if they are ever going to participate.

In New York, the DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson and party colleague Nigel Dodds have addressed the Council on Foreign Relations.

Mr Adams said he will lobby US politicians on policing
Mr Robinson told an elite audience that his party should not be expected to share power with Sinn Fein "while the IRA was active".

He also said he feared that terrorism was going to spread because it could work, suggesting the al-Qaeda bomb in Madrid had influenced the Spanish election.

Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy, who visited a famine memorial in New York, admitted the peace process had been undermined in recent weeks.

But he said he hoped that confidence could be restored if the paramilitaries played their part.

The political institutions in Northern Ireland were suspended in October 2002 amid allegations of IRA intelligence-gathering in the Stormont government.




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC NI's Martina Purdy reports
"In cities across America, the Irish and the wanna-be Irish are celebrating St Patrick"


BBC NI's Homara Choudhary:
"Mrs O'Loan also said she believed the PSNI was now moving towards real community-based policing"



SEE ALSO:
Progress on baton alternative
29 Jan 04  |  Northern Ireland
Policing reform 'on right track'
10 Dec 03  |  Northern Ireland
SF close to 'biting policing bullet'
25 Mar 03  |  Northern Ireland


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