26 February 2009 Edition
Support for policing 'not a blank cheque'
Sinn Féin Ard Fheis 2009
BY MÍCHEAL Mac DONNCHA
THE Ard Fheis underlined the urgent need for the long overdue transfer of policing and justice powers from London to Belfast. An emergency motion from the Ard Chomhiarle committed the party to continue the process now underway that will achieve democratic accountability for policing and justice.
Alex Maskey MLA pointed out that significant change and progress has been made through political negotiations as well as in constructive and direct dialogue with the PSNI, the Policing Board and the District policing Partnership Boards. But much remains to be done:
“Almost two years ago Sinn Féin took the historic decision to engage with policing structures in the North. This was not a blank cheque. It was a strategic decision taken after much internal discussion, a series of public meetings and against the history of our experiences. The aim was to ensure that the PSNI take the necessary next steps in delivering effective community-based policing which communities can buy into and have confidence in.
“Policing in the North needs to completely throw off the shackles of the past. Those who learned their trade in the torture centres or in the shady and secretive policing corners which brought us collusion, shoot to kill and other human rights abuses are simply not suited to policing. Many have already gone and that is welcome. However some remain. And some of the bad practice remains and that must change.”
Maskey said that too often PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde has made political comments and the effect has been to “undermine confidence in him and in the PSNI fulfilling their obligations”.
“Any truth process which has the fingerprints of the securocrats in Whitehall anywhere near it simply will not work”, stated Gerry Kelly MLA, speaking in support of an Ard Chomhairle motion calling for the establishment of an Independent International Truth Commission. He told the Ard Fheis that the Eames/Bradley report falls very far short of what is required:
“The British Government was the major protagonist in the conflict in Ireland. They therefore cannot be the objective facilitator of any truth recovery process. They also cannot with any honesty write the remit of any group tasked with that role. History shows that their contribution has been one of cover-up and concealment.”
Sinn Féin cumainn from across the country submitted motions calling for the release of the remaining republican prisoners in Castlerea Prison and for the release of Pól Brennan so that he can fight deportation from the USA where he has lived openly for many years. Martin Ferris TD said:
“People like Pól, who escaped from Long Kesh in 1983, were involved as IRA activists. If they were at one time subject to imprisonment and other sanctions because of that, they should now be allowed share in the fact that the IRA above all others, have brought a radically different situation. It is hypocritical in the extreme for the Irish Government or the United States Government to applaud the IRA for initiatives which it has taken over the past 15 years, and yet still subject IRA or former IRA activists to sanctions.”
Labhair Peadar de Blúit ó Ógra Shinn Féin, agus a bheidh mar iarrthóir sna toghcháin áitiúla i gConate Chill Choinnigh, ag tacú leis na rúin ar na príosúnaigh polaitiúla agus ag cur síos ar fheachtas Ógra ar son Pól Brennan.
Incoming Cathaoirleach Náisiúnta of Sinn Féin, Declan Kearney, denounced those who “purport to use armed actions” in the name of republicanism and said they are “a block and an obstacle to political and national unity”. He said their so-called campaigns are “fig-leaves to conceal degenerate and criminal enterprises, turf wars and gangland killings”. He demanded that they “disarm, disband and disappear”.