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Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams
"There is no way that I or Sinn Fein could recommend... this new legislation"
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Sunday, 21 May, 2000, 17:40 GMT 18:40 UK
Adams rejects NI police bill

The new police bill is provoking controversy on all sides
Sinn Fein cannot recommend joining or supporting a new police service in Northern Ireland on the basis of recent legislation, its party president has said.

Gerry Adams made the comment on Sunday at a commemoration service in west Belfast for a young girl killed by a plastic bullet.

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The new police bill for Northern Ireland was published at Westminister last Tuesday and leaves the final decision on the name of the new police service to Secretary of State Peter Mandelson.

Ulster Unionists have been seeking assurances from the government that the RUC's name will be retained, as they have linked it to a return to a power-sharing government.

But republicans have been deeply unhappy with the policing bill, and what they see as a dilution of what was recommended in a report on the future of policing by former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten.

Mr Patten's Independent Commission on the Future of Policing consulted widely throughout the province before recommending changing the RUC name and emblem, as part of series of reforms to make the police more acceptable to all sections of the community.

Mr Adams told people taking part in the commemoration at Twinbrook, outside Belfast, that policing reform was a "touchstone issue" for nationalists and republicans.

He said: "I have to say that the recently published policing bill does not advance the objective of a new policing service and there is no way, at this time, that I, or Sinn Fein, could recommend to nationalists or republicans that they should consider joining or supporting a police force as described in that legislation."

"In their joint letter to the party leaders of May 5, the two governments committed themselves to implementing the Patten report. This legislation does not do that.

I have to say that the recently published policing bill does not advance the objective of a new policing service

Gerry Adams
"I welcome the taoiseach's (Irish prime minister) commitments on these matters.

"It is of utmost importance that all parties remain resolutely committed to the objective of a new policing service. If Mr Blair is to keep to his commitment he will have to do better."

Open to further consultation

The Sinn Fein leader said his community wanted to see the end of the RUC and a new beginning to policing with the development of an all-Ireland approach.

Republicans are unhappy that the issues of a new police title, flag and badge have been left open to further consultation.

The Police (NI) Bill says that until a final decision is made on the name, it will be known as the Police Service.

But the force will continue to be known as the RUC until September 2001.

Ulster Unionist security spokesman Ken Maginnis said Sinn Fein's rejection of the policing bill was "not surprising".

Chris Patten
Chris Patten: Report on future of policing
The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP claimed republicans had a "long and difficult route" to travel over the policing issue.

He said: "It is not surprising that some republican families, who cannot allow their sons and daughters to join the police in the Irish Republic, would be reluctant to recommend them to join the RUC.

"Adams' comments should be a salutary lesson for the government who must learn that progress cannot be made through demeaning concessions but rather through education and experience."

Gregory Campbell, of the anti-agreement Democratic Unionist Party, said Mr Adams' rejection underlined "more clearly than anything else what Ulster Unionist delegates have to come to terms with next Saturday. "

"There is no point in trying to placate the implacable," he said.

The new policing bill says that the Northern Ireland Secretary must take into account any advice given to him by the new policing board set up under the act, when making a decision about the name for the new police service.

That 19-member board to replace the Northern Ireland Police Authority will include ten politicians from the Ulster Unionists, the Democratic Unionist Party, the SDLP and Sinn Fein and is to begin its work in April 2001.

The bill also says that "the secretary of state shall have regard to the need to secure that the membership of the police force is representative of the community in Northern Ireland".

It confirms that local councils will establish district policing partnerships to monitor local forces.

It also says there should also be a new declaration for recruits, a new code of ethics, members of the police force should register interests and the Northern Ireland Secretary should "regulate the flags and emblems of the police force".

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See also:

16 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Unionists reject RUC name plan
15 May 00 | Northern Ireland
RUC foundation announced
29 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
Anger over policing bill
28 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
Bill confirms RUC name change
03 May 00 | Northern Ireland
PM pressed over RUC terms
11 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
'Hundreds to leave RUC'
19 Jan 00 | Northern Ireland
RUC renamed in sweeping changes
19 Jan 00 | Northern Ireland
'Great hurt at RUC change'
20 Jan 00 | Northern Ireland
Unionists seek policing meeting
19 Jan 00 | Northern Ireland
RUC changes at a glance
09 Sep 99 | Northern Ireland
RUC name change 'insult to victims'
09 Sep 99 | Northern Ireland
The personalities behind RUC reform
09 Sep 99 | Northern Ireland
Q&A: The Patten report
18 Jan 00 | Northern Ireland
Adams wants RUC reforms 'in full'
17 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Commissioner to oversee reforms
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