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Thursday, September 9, 1999 Published at 13:44 GMT 14:44 UK

UK Politics

Sinn Fein cautious over RUC proposals

Sinn Fein wants the RUC to be completely disbanded

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Sinn Fein has said it will consult the nationalist community before responding to the proposals contained in the report into policing in Northern Ireland.

[ image: Martin McGuinness: Considering proposals]
Martin McGuinness: Considering proposals
The party has said it was premature for people to reach conclusions at this stage and wanted to avoid "knee-jerk reaction".

Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA, has been calling for the RUC to be disbanded.

The republicans also wanted existing officers to have to apply for membership of a new service - that service should be unarmed and there should be a ban on plastic bullets.

Chief negotiator Martin McGuinness said: "What we were seeking was the disbandment of the RUC and the creation of new policing service.

Pattern Report
"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."

Mr McGuinness gave no indication how long the consultation would take.

He said: "I've noticed over the last 24 hours other parties have rushed to judgement [on this issue].

"But this is too serious an issue for people to be knee-jerking. We are going to be very calm, very rational and will be discussing it with our own community."

The Search for Peace
More related to this story
Link to Sir Christopher Patten
Link to Martin Mcguinness
Link to Seamus Mallon
Link to Sinn Fein
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."

[ image: Seamus Mallon: Implement recommendations]
Seamus Mallon: Implement recommendations
Mr Mallon said his party wanted to see its recommendations implemented and would urge nationalists to join the remodelled force.

But he expressed disappointed that an immediate ban on the use of plastic bullets was not proposed.

The SDLP would have liked a shorter time scale for the achievement of religious balance within the new force.

Mr Mallon added: "This is not about sectionalised interests.

"This is not about unionist policing or nationalist policing, it's about policing for all the people in the north of Ireland."

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09 Sep 99 | Patten Report
Full coverage: The Patten Report

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The RUC: Head to head

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