30 June 2005 Edition

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Former UDR commander to train PSNI

Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly has said the appointment of former British Army Brigadier David Strudley to head up the PSNI's training programme is sending out the wrong signal to those in the community seeking an acceptable policing service.

Strudley, who commanded a battalion of the sectarian Ulster Defence Regiment in County Armagh from 1986 to 1988, takes charge of PSNI training in September.

A key part of the policing reforms in 1999 was to rid the discredited RUC of its paramilitary dimension. Now the appointment of the 57-year-old former British Army Chief of Staff and Deputy Colonel of the Royal Irish Regiment, who retired in 1996 has raised concerns with Gerry Kelly saying the appointment will not inspire confidence within the broad nationalist community. "Our focus has been on creating an acceptable policing service which can enjoy the support of the community it serves but involving an individual with a UDR past in such a senior position sends out the entirely wrong signal. The UDR and RUC represent a failed policing past based upon repression and violence".

Maggie Beirne, director of the human rights organisation Administration of Justice, said that all international good practices urge greater civilianisation and opening up of police training to non-police trainers and managers. "A frequent complaint about policing in the past was about how heavily militarised it was and any move which runs counter to demilitarisation and greater civilianisation of policing would be counter-productive", said Beirne.


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