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SDLP position on policing at odds with nationalist community

18 August, 2004

South Down Assembly Member Cllr Willie Clarke has said that the SDLP's position on policing is at odds with the nationalist community after SDLP councillors on Down District Council refused support a Sinn Fein motion condemning the actions of the PSNI for overturning Parades Commission determinations in Ardoyne and Lurgan. The motion also called on the Orange Order, Royal Black Preceptory and Apprentice Boys to properly engage in discussions with nationalist communities in South Down.

Cllr Clarke said:

"The decision by the SDLP to oppose this motion is further evidence of a party that lacks a coherent policy on policing. The SDLP are afraid to address the issue of partisan political policing that was clearly evident in Ardoyne and Lurgan last month.

"The SDLP have endorsed and are continuing to endorse a police force that is unaccountable and inherently sectarian. Over the 12th of July the PSNI hemmed in nationalist communities on the Springfield Road, Ardoyne and Lurgan in order to facilitate anti-Catholic parades through those areas. The PSNI in South Down chose to ignore the flying of Unionist paramilitary flags on lampposts and by bands that have marched in towns and villages throughout the area. Excusing the actions of the PSNI during the marching season is doing a major disservice to the nationalist community.

"The SDLP endorses a police force that is still unionist in its ethos and when it comes to a decision between Orange demands and nationalist rights will continue to uphold the unionist position. The motion Sinn Fein tabled last week would have officially recorded Down District Council's opposition to the PSNI forcing Unionist parades through Nationalist areas and the overturning of Parades Commission determinations. Yet the SDLP took the decision to provide political cover for the PSNI by rejecting this motion.

"In making the choice to act as cheerleaders for the PSNI the SDLP are endorsing the suppression of nationalist rights in the face of unionist demands. The SDLP position on policing is at odds with the majority of the nationalist community in Down District and throughout the Six Counties." ENDS

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