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Thursday, September 9, 1999 Published at 15:04 GMT 16:04 UK

UK: Northern Ireland

Policing report leaves parties unhappy

The report recommends the name of the force be changed

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Click here for the full report

Republicans and nationalists in Northern Ireland have criticised the Patten Report recommendations for not going far enough towards disbandment of the RUC.

BBC NI's Political Correspondent Mark Simpson: The parties react
The main proposals among the 175 recommendations put forward are for a new name, badge, oath of allegiance, uniform and recruitment policy for the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

Unionists said the report was an insult to the force.

A statement from the Ulster Unionist Party said changes to policing in Northern Ireland "will flow from an end to terrorist violence".

Pattern Report
The statement said the only change needed for the force was to increase the number of its Catholic officers.

It said: "Instead of an insistence on this point, the Patten commission has allowed itself to be diverted into a gratuitous insult by stripping the service of its name, badge and union flag.

"The ban on the flag runs counter to the constitutional provisions of the Belfast Agreement: abolition of the badge disregards the commission's own terms of reference which enjoin emblems representative of the community as a whole.

[ image: Seamus Mallon: Accept the report]
Seamus Mallon: Accept the report
"The substantive recommendations raise concerns with regard to local accountability, the Balkanisation of policing, and the emasculation of the police's anti-terrorist capability."

'New policing service'

Sinn Fein said it was premature for people to reach conclusions at this stage.

Sinn Fein's Bairbre de Brun speaks about the report
Chief negotiator Martin McGuinness said: "What we were seeking was the disbandment of the RUC and the creation of new policing service.

"From our point of view what we want to establish over the course of the coming weeks and discuss in dialogue with our people is whether or not what has been proposed is in effect the creation of a new policing service.

"If we create a new policing service then we will have effectively disbanded the RUC, that's the test in my opinion."

Seamus Mallon: "The central function of a police force is the protection of the individual"
But Seamus Mallon, deputy leader of the SDLP, urged the people of Northern Ireland to accept the proposals.

He said: "We have an opportunity, not just to accept something which Chris Patten has drawn up, to manage, to shape, to help to devise a system which all of us can be comfortable with and can assume responsibility for."

'Balanced document'

Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and his cabinet called for "early and effective implementation" of the report's recommendations under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

The Irish Government said the recommendations would strengthen the effectiveness of the police throughout the island of Ireland by enhancing relations between the police forces on both sides of the border.

[ image: Andrew Mackay: Blueprint for peaceful times]
Andrew Mackay: Blueprint for peaceful times
Foreign Minister David Andrews said: "I would have thought that the recommendations in the context of the human rights element - new oaths, a code of ethics, policing in the community, a police ombudsman, the abandonment of plastic bullets - right across the broad canvass of the report itself strikes a balance."

Andrew MacKay: "Some recommendations cannot be implemented until the situation returns to normal"
Conservative Northern Ireland spokesman Andrew Mackay said the report was a "blueprint for the future of policing in Northern Ireland in peaceful times".

But he warned that many of the recommendations would have to await a "permanent end to violence and real progress on decommissioning illegally held arms and explosives".

Proposals such as reducing the number of officers, reducing the work of the special branch and downgrading security at police stations would be "extremely dangerous until the security situation is permanently improved".

The Conservatives could not see any merit in changing the name of the force, or its insignia badges, he continued.

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