24 May 2007 Edition

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Sinn Féin to ensure PSNI accountability

Daithí McKay

Daithí McKay

Sinn Féin members on the North’s Policing Board will ensure full accountability of the PSNI, one of those members said this week. North Antrim MLA Daithí McKay said Sinn Féin had brought the policing issue into the political negotiations which led to the Good Friday Agreement and that it had been part of every set of political talks since.
“The Policing Board is charged with holding the PSNI to account. Our presence on the Board will be the guarantee that this happens. This is a key area of work for Sinn Féin”, said McKay.
“It is not the job of Sinn Féin members on the Policing Board to act as cheerleaders for the PSNI or rubber stamp PSNI policy and actions. Sinn Féin will provide the voice for communities who have in the past experienced only bad policing. We want to play a constructive role on the Board but we will not shy away from challenging, or criticising, or questioning policing decisions and policy when the need arises”, he said.
“Sinn Féin will ask the awkward questions and demand that we get straight answers. The prize of a truly accountable and representative policing service which serves the entire community is achievable and I believe that our contribution on the Policing Board will be key to achieving this goal”, McKay said.
Meanwhile, responding to claims by rejectionist unionist MEP Jim Allister that Sinn Féin had reneged on Policing commitments, following an arrest operation in Dungannon last week, another Sinn Féin member of the Policing Board and party spokesperson on policing Alex Maskey, said Sinn Féin would not take lectures from the former DUP member.
“Sinn Féin will not take lectures on anything, let alone policing from an individual like Jim Allister. Aside from his spat with his former colleagues in the DUP I am not prepared to stand by and allow him to try and distort the Sinn Féin position”, Maskey said.
“Sinn Féin support accountable and acceptable policing. What we do not support is bad, repressive or political policing. When the conduct of the PSNI drops below the standard we expect then it is our duty as public  representatives to call the policing service to account.
“Sinn Féin are not joining policing structures to rubber stamp the decisions taken by the PSNI leadership. Our job is to provide a robust and effective accountability mechanism. The operation in Dungannon on Friday evening was heavy handed and unacceptable. Sinn Féin will not shy away from speaking out when we feel that it is necessary. That is  the difference between ourselves and others who have been sitting on the Policing board for years.”

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