Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Special Ard Fheis called as profound changes secured in recent negotiations

29 December, 2006


The Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle met in Dublin this afternoon and backed a motion put by party President Gerry Adams to convene a special Ard Fheis on the issue of policing. Mr. Adams said that profound changes had been secured, particularly in the intensive talks with the British government over the last number of weeks. On foot of these changes the Sinn Fein Ard Chomhairle is convening a special Ard Fheis. If others including the two governments and the DUP respond positively this Ard Fheis will take place in January ."

Speaking following the Ard Chomhairle Mr. Adams said:

"Since the time of the Good Friday Agreement Sinn Féin has been involved in a series of negotiations with the British government on the issue of policing. These negotiations were intensified in recent weeks and profound changes secured. Because of the critical importance of the issue, when others were willing to settle for less, we ensured that the negotiations continued until there was full delivery. We stayed out of policing structures until now in order to bring about maximum change. If the Ard Fheis accepts this motion it will be about us going into a new policing dispensation in order to continue to bring about maximum change and to ensure that the police never again do to our people what they did before.

"Today I put a motion to the Ard Chomhairle asking it to convene a special Ard Fheis on the issue of policing. The Ard Chomairle has backed this proposal. If others including the two governments and the DUP respond positively this Ard Fheis will take place in January.

The motion passed by the Ard Chomhairle, which will be put before the special Ard Fheis, will be made public in the coming days, when it has been distributed to Sinn Féin members throughout the country. Included in the motion is a commitment to:

Democratic Accountablity

- Devolution of policing and justice to the Assembly

- Support for the police services, An Garda Síochana and the PSNI and criminal justice system

- Hold the police and criminal justice systems fully to account both democratically and legally

- Appoint party representatives to the Policing Board and District Policing Partnership Boards to secure fair, impartial and effective policing with the community;

- Authorise Sinn Féin Ministers to take the ministerial Pledge of Office

- Actively encourage everyone in the community to co-operate fully with the police services in tackling crime in all areas and actively supporting all the criminal justice institutions

Human Rights and Truth Recovery

- Equality and human rights to be at the heart of the new dispensation

- Equality of treatment for all victims and effective truth recovery mechanisms

Ending Repression and Political Policing

- Total opposition to any involvement by British Security Service/MI5 in civic policing

- Total opposition to the use of plastic bullets

- Ensuring there is no place in the PSNI for those guilty of human rights abuses

"In the run up to the Ard Fheis, the party leadership will conduct a widespread debate within the party which will be led by party Chairperson Mary Lou McDonald. We will also hold a series of meetings with the wider republican and nationalist community, including the families of our patriot dead and victims of state murder and collusion.

"Our view is straight forward. We are committed to Irish unity. We support civic policing through a police service, which is representative of the community it serves, free from partisan political control and democratically accountable. We support fair, impartial and effective delivery of the rule of law. What we don't support and what we will never allow to happen again is repressive, sectarian and political policing.

"I realise that this is a very difficult issue for many nationalists and republicans, not because we oppose law and order but because our experience is of a police service which served only one section of the community and which was involved in murder, torture, collusion and shoot-to-kill. However, the achievment of the new beginning to policing promised in the Good Friday Agreement would be an enormous achievement and I believe that we have now reached the point of taking the next step. If it succeeds it will advance the struggle for equality and the search for a just and lasting peace on the island of Ireland."ENDS

Gerry Adams will be speaking at the 50th anniversary commemoration of Seán Sabhat and Feargal Ó hAnnluain which begins in Moanes Cross, near Brookborough, Co Fermanagh at 1.00pm on Monday 1st January 2007.

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