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New beginning to policing remains "unfinished business" - Kelly

9 June, 2005

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly, spokesperson on Policing and Justice, has said that the vision of the new beginning to policing enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 remains "unfinished business". Mr Kelly was speaking after the Oversight Commissioner for Policing published his 13th report, and after Sinn Féin met yesterday with the Oversight Commissioner.

Mr Kelly said :

"This is the end of the first five year term of the Office of the Oversight Commissioner. Sinn Fein has made huge advances in negotiations on policing and justice during that time. However, there are outstanding issues, most important of which is the transfer of powers on policing and justice. The transfer of powers is critical to a new beginning to policing because it is only in that context that policing and justice can be wrested away from London and made democratically accountable

"Sinn Féin explained to the Oversight Commissioner the seriousness of the outstanding negotiations to transfer powers on policing and justice. Earlier this year, the British government revealed plans to change the role of MI5 in relation to policing in the 6 counties. These proposals will pre-empt the transfer of powers and there is deep concern about what effect that will have on making policing fully accountable. We cannot have a situation where progress on one hand is being undermined on the other. All of this vindicates the position Sinn Fein has taken in demanding to see the legislative Act to transfer powers on policing and justice.

"The Oversight Commissioner‚s report highlights other outstanding problems including plastic bullets, the Full ˆTime reserve, representativeness, community policing, human rights , demilitarisation and the 'force within a force'. Together, this is evidence of resistance to change in policing which still pervades the PSNI and the NIO. For our part, Sinn Féin will pursue proper policing and justice with all our energy.

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