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2 December 1999 Edition

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Sinn Féin responds to Patten

On Tuesday, 30 November, Sinn Féin formally responded to the Patten Commission's proposals in a submission to the British government.

The party said that it still has to be convinced that the Patten Report goes far enough in addressing the failed legacy of policing in the Six Counties. ``We are therefore unable, at present, to take up the call to encourage people from nationalist and republican communities to join any emerging police service.''

The party intends to assess the report's recommendations and to carefully look at British government legislation before reaching a final conclusion.

Sinn Féin expressed concern about the transitional aspects of the report, including the unacceptable length of time proposed to achieve some minimal sense of representativeness, the lack of reassurance concerning those currently in the RUC who have no place in a proper policing system.

The party also expressed concern that senior officers will all be able to stay in positionand be able to authorise the use of plastic bullets.

Sinn Féin stressed that republicans seek the establishment of an all-Ireland policing service, and in the interim, the creation of a policing service in the Six Counties that can attract widespread support from and is seen as an integral part of the community as a whole.

On Wednesday, 1 December, West Belfast community leaders have met with the Patten Action Team, the group of British government civil servants charged with coordinating onsultations on the report by the Patten Commission.

At the meeting, which took place in Stormont buildings on Wednesday, 1 December, the community workers expressed the real and growing concerns within the nationalist community about the Patten Report and the unionist campaign against change.

Eileen Howell, Director of the Falls Community Council, said: ``We are meeting to press home to the Patten Action Team the nationalist community's concerns that much of the Patten Report does not meet our basic hopes and expectations. Changing the name, symbols and uniform of the RUC are an absolute minimum and must be part of a radical package if a new police service is to be representative of and accountable to the nationalist and Republican community, on an equal basis with others''.
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