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18 January 2007 Edition

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The Mitchel McLaughlin Column

Mitchel McLaughlin

Mitchel McLaughlin

Two Governments must provide clarity not paralysis

Republicans are determined to move the policing issue forward despite the failure of the DUP leadership. We do so because it is an issue that our community demands be resolved to our satisfaction. We believe that we have achieved the threshold required to create the desired new beginning to policing. As Gerry Adams stated, for years we stayed outside policing structures because that was the best way to bring about change. Now, having reached an acceptable threshold we need to move into those structures as the best way to maximise change.

As a result of intense deliberations and despite the DUP failure to play a positive role, the Ard Chomhairle has accepted Gerry Adams’ proposal to call an extraordinary Ard Fheis for 28 January. Governments and all responsible political leaders have responded positively to this latest Sinn Féin initiative but we will probably continue to hear the same negative rhetoric from the rejectionists in the DUP. As long as we recognise the motives behind this bombast it will not work.

The DUP, supported by some powerful elements within the PSNI don’t want Sinn Féin within an ass’s roar of policing because they know that this will be the end of political and unaccountable policing. They are running scared and are hoping that by upping the ante they will unnerve republicans and create enough confusion that we will back off of our project. They are confused and dismayed that the Ard Chomhairle voted to approve the motion on policing and justice.

The positive response has put the DUP in a quandary as to how they can prevent further progress. Their despair at the prospect that republicans could become participants in policing will elicit even more outrageous comments from the rejectionists.

Both governments have acknowledged the sincerity and determination of republicans to reach resolution on this issue. The logic of this position is that they also recognize that it is the DUP’s fear of change that is leading to paralysis in the process. Therefore, taking this logic to its conclusion, it is incumbent on the governments to make clear what they intend to do if the DUP persists in its intransigence.

It is now time for clarity not paralysis from the two governments. It is time that Dublin and London confronted the DUP leadership to state clearly if it is prepared to enter power sharing government in all its aspects on 26 March. Is the DUP prepared to facilitate transfer of policing and justice powers to the Assembly by May 2008? A simple yes or no is all that is required.

The impression of many is that only unionist concerns need be addressed. The arrogant refusal of the DUP to accept the legitimate expectations of nationalists and republicans to be treated with equality is totally unacceptable. The tolerance towards this position shown by the governments is also unacceptable. It is essential that Republicans and nationalists also have a sense of ownership of this process.

An Phoblacht Magazine


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