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16 September 2004 Edition

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£100,000 golden handshake for ex-RUC reservists: PSNI Reserve to stay in breach of Patten

PSNI Chief Hugh Orde announced on 9 September that the force's full-time Reserve is to be retained, a decision that is in breach of the Patten Report recommendations. While the force will be cut by 55% its retention marks yet another dilution of the Good Friday Agreement.

The departing reservists are to get golden handshakes of up to £100,000 each, plus a pension. 45% of the 1,478 reservists are to be retained on three-year contracts.

Sinn Féin National Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin said the decision to retain the Full Time Reserve in direct breach of Patten had left the SDLP, and others on the Policing Board who claim to be delivering Patten, seriously exposed. McLaughlin stated:

"Patten was clear and unambiguous. The Full Time Reserve had to go. The SDLP claim to be delivering Patten through their membership of the Policing Board, yet openly supported the PSNI Chief Constable breaching a key Patten requirement. This hardly matches up to their often quoted public position of delivering on Patten through membership of the Policing Board.

"This was not a good day for policing as we were told by Alex Attwood. It was a bad day for policing and a bad day for those of us who wish to see the promise of Patten delivered and a new and acceptable policing service created.

"How can retaining a unionist militia within the ranks of the PSNI be considered a good day for policing? How can maintaining the previously high levels of Full Time Reserve in the Tactical Support Group be a good day for policing? How can blatant breaches of Patten by the Chief Constable with the support of the Policing Board be a good day for policing?

"These are the questions which nationalists and republicans are justifiably asking in the wake of this decision and the SDLP response."

The Patten report into a new beginning to policing was unequivocal in its recommendation that the RUC reserve should be disbanded. The reserve was founded over 30 years ago to support the RUC. Like the notorious B Specials before them the reserve was and remains overwhelmingly Protestant and exclusively unionist. UUP leader David Trimble expressed his "bitter disappointment" at Orde's decision to cut the reserve.

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