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Sinn Féin Ard Fheis to go ahead on January 28th

13 January, 2007


Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP speaking following a meeting of the party's Ard Chomhairle in Dublin this afternoon said 'The Ard Chomhairle today backed a proposal for an Extraordinary Ard Fheis to go ahead on January 28th. This is a hugely courageous decision and will ensure that the process continues to move forward." Mr. Adams said 'I believe that the new beginning to policing promised in the Good Friday Agreement is now within our grasp. Sinn Fein wants to get policing right. The Extraordinary Sinn Fein Ard Fheis is the important next step.'

Mr. Adams said:

Irish republicans and nationalists want, need and deserve proper and accountable policing. On Thursday, December 28, I said that I believe that Irish republicans need now to take the necessary next step on policing -- that it is the right thing to do. This was the position I put to today's meeting. In response, the Sinn Fein Ard Chomhairle today took the historic and courageous decision to proceed to an Ard Fheis on policing despite the failure of the DUP to respond positively. If the Ard Fheis adopts the proposed motion then we will have the potential, for the first time ever, for the full involvement by Irish republicans in policing structures across the island.

The Ard Chomhairle has decided to proceed with the planned Ard Fheis on January 28th and on the basis of the motion agreed by the Ard Chomhairle on December 29 which commits Sinn Fein to:

- Support for 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

The Ard Chomhairle is proposing that an Extraordinary Ard Fheis adopts this motion and gives the Ard Chomhairle the responsibility and authority to fully implement all elements of it. The necessary context for this is the re-establishment of the political institutions and confirmation that policing and justice powers will be transferred to these institutions or when acceptable new partnership arrangements to implement the Good Friday Agreement are in place.

It would be entirely wrong to allow the most negative elements of unionism a veto over republican and nationalist efforts to achieve the new beginning to policing promised in the Good Friday Agreement. Sinn Fein will not be paralysed by rejectionist elements of the DUP.

There are also those within the PSNI who are opposed to change. In this context, I have been made aware of incidents in parts of South Derry, Castlederg and County Armagh where local PSNI units are involved in trying to destabilise nationalist communities. This is entirely predictable and needs to be stopped.

Our objective is to secure a proper policing service and to hold that policing service, once achieved, fully to account. We have already achieved enormous progress on the issues of democratic accountability, human rights protections and the ending of political and repressive policing. Over recent days, we have also seen progress and changes on the key issues of the removal of MI5 from local policing structures and on the use of plastic bullets. I believe that the new beginning to policing promised in the Good Friday Agreement is now within our grasp. Sinn Fein wants to get policing right. The Extraordinary Sinn Fein Ard Fheis is the important next step. ENDS

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