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SDLP challenged after Policing Board whitewash

4 November, 2004

Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Belfast Gerry Kelly today challenged the SDLPs Alex Attwood to come to Ardoyne and publicly debate with him the report published today by the Policing Board , of which he is a member, which endorses the PSNI operation in Ardoyne on July 12th.

Mr Kelly said:

"The PSNI operation in Ardoyne in July when an Orange march along with a UDA mob was forced through three nationalist areas resulted in serious violence. The anger generated by this operation is still being felt within the broad nationalist community in North Belfast.

" In the wake of the operation and in the face of growing nationalist anger at the actions of the PSNI the Policing Board with the support of the SDLP advised that the only mechanism they had to hold the PSNI to account was through the commissioning of this report. This despite the fact that the Chairperson of the Policing Board Des Rea had already praised the PSNI for the operation.

" Sinn Féin predicted that this exercise was not about holding the PSNI to account but was simply a device aimed at taking pressure off the SDLP leadership in the face of mounting criticism from within their own ranks over their continuing support for this sort of failed policing. The contents of this report prove that to be the case. The report is little more than a whitewash and endorses the PSNI operation.

" This outcome obviously raises very serious questions for the SDLP. Alex Attwood assured the nationalist community that the Policing Board would hold the PSNI to account over the Ardoyne operation. The opposite has proven to be the case. The report simply rubber stamps the PSNI operation which forced an anti-Catholic mob through catholic areas and will cause further anger and offence within the broad nationalist community.

" I would now challenge Alex Attwood to come to Ardoyne and debate the contents of this report with me. Let him now try and tell the people of Ardoyne who were brutalised by the operation that he is delivering accountability through the Policing Board. Today's report is another vindication of the approach which republicans have adopted to the current policing arrangements" ENDS

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