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Tuesday, September 7, 1999 Published at 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK

UK: Northern Ireland

Nationalists express hope of RUC change

There is clear dissatisfaction with the RUC in west Belfast

Members of the nationalist community in Northern Ireland have been speaking about the changes they would like to see made to the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

Pattern Report
This week, they are waiting to see if any of the proposals they put forward during Patten Commission's consultation process have been adopted in the report to be published on Thursday.

BBC NI's Jeremy Mitchell interviews nationalists about RUC change
Clara Reilly was hit by a plastic bullet fired by the Army, while she was working as a community worker in Turf Lodge in Belfast in 1976.

She has been campaigning for an end to plastic bullet use by the secutity forces since she was badly injured on the arm.

[ image: West Belfast posters allege RUC collusion with loyalists]
West Belfast posters allege RUC collusion with loyalists
She said: ''The paratroopers were actually foaming at the mouth they were in such as aggressive mood, I was really frightened. I put my hand up to protect my face and I got hit on the lower part of the arm.''

In her submission to the Patten Commission she said: "There is no question, plastic bullets have to be banned.''

Stephen McGowan is a community project worker in west Belfast. Through his work with the educational and sporting development of 17 and 18 year olds he knows they do not respect, support or trust the RUC.

'Representative force needed'

He said any police service in Northern Ireland must become more representative of his community and more community orientated to be accepted.

He said: "The Good Friday Agreement states that we must have an unarmed representative police force which complies with human rights standards.

"Furthermore it must have an independent police complaints procedure which is free from police control.''

He added: "There is need for a regionalisation of the police service broken down into local regional forces which would allow policing in those communities to be more focused, more targeted and more community orientated.

'Accountable police service'

Spokesman for the Falls Community Council in west Belfast Ciaran Kearney, said nationalists and republicans hope to see a more accountable police service emerging.

Mr Kearney said: ''What nationalists would like to see is a policing service which reflects human rights standards and which is accountable to them and representative of them.

"The more localised policing is, the more responsive it is likely to be.''

[ image: IRA signs in south Armagh show support for armed forces other than the RUC]
IRA signs in south Armagh show support for armed forces other than the RUC
Asked if he believed localising the police service would stop paramilitary 'punishment' attacks in his community, Mr Kearney said he believed an acceptable police force would fill the vacuum which had led to such incidents.

He said: "I think the tolerance for punishment attacks exists in a situation where we have a policing vacuum. We are hoping that Chris Patten will have proposals which fill that vacuum with localised community policing.

"I think many people in this area are looking forward to situation where the symptoms of the vacuum like the punishment attacks disappear."

Toni Carragher of the South Armagh Farmers and Residents' Committee has been campaigning against what she says have been increased police and Army operations in her area since the current IRA ceasefire began.

She said many people in south Armagh would like the RUC to be disbanded altogether.

She said: "South Armagh, like very other area, needs a policing service, one that the people can relate to and participate in.

"In an ideal situation here is that the RUC would be total disbanded and there would be a whole new policing situation."

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