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SDLP tactics in talks expose failure of Policing Board membership

6 October, 2004

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Policing Gerry Kelly has said that the fact that the SDLP at Leeds Castle had decided to follow the lead given by Sinn Féin and once again raise with the British government key policing issues such as collusion, Special Branch, the Full Time Reserve and Plastic Bullets is an admission that their strategy of going onto the Policing Board to achieve change in these areas had failed.

Mr Kelly said:

"Three years ago the SDLP told us that the negotiation with the British government on Policing was concluded. They claimed that there could be no more legislative change and that the only place to achieve further policing change was on the Policing Board.

"Sinn Féin refused to accept this. We continued to engage with the British government to try and achieve that sort of acceptable policing service demanded by the Good Friday Agreement. We have had some success in this effort over the past number of years but more progress is still required on a number of outstanding issues and our negotiation team continues to work with the British government on this issue.

"The fact that the SDLP now admit to having raised at Leeds Castle with the British government policing issues such as collusion, the Special Branch, the Full Time Reserve and the continuing use of plastic bullets is in effect an admission that their approach over the past three years in attempting to achieve change through membership of the Policing Board has failed.

"No doubt at today's meeting of the Policing Board the SDLP members will once again play to the camera and tell us that they are delivering change through the Board. They will seek to gloss over or ignore the now very obvious contradiction in their position.

"The fact remains that key to achieving a truly accountable and acceptable policing service lies not with the Policing Board but with the British government. The change in the SDLP approach over recent weeks is evidence that even they now accept this reality." ENDS

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