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3 August 2000 Edition

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McNamara calls for Patten implementation

A senior Labour Backbencher has called on the British government to ``get back in the driving seat on police reform'' in the Six Counties. Former Opposition Spokesperson Kevin McNamara has tabled more than 100 Parliamentary Questions asking for information to be made available on the progress towards implementation of the Patten Report.

Expressing his disappointment at progress, McNamara believes Ministers now need to reinforce their resolve to see Patten implemented in full. He is frustrated that the Police Bill still requires amendments to bring it into line with Patten Report, but he pointed out that legislation represents only one part of the reform process.

McNamara is also disturbed that despite closing the notorious Castlereagh Holding Centre, two other interrogation centres in Armagh and Derry still remain open.

Likewise, the Patten proposal to find an alternative to plastic bullets is in danger of being squashed by the old police establishment under the guise of an internal inquiry.

McNamara has also criticised the `hush-hush' internal review process which has failed to deliver a plan to bring back jury trials, leaving the Diplock Courts in place for the foreseeable future.

His move coincided with the Second Reading of the Police Bill in the House of Lords on Thursday, 27 July.

Commenting, McNamara said: ``I am determined to keep up the pressure on policing reform over the summer. Ministers are in danger of selling the people of Northern Ireland short on policing. There is a growing frustration and impatience at the manner in which the Police Bill has been handled, and that is reflected on Labour Benches.

``Patten promised representative and accountable policing that could consolidate the peace process and create a service for all sections of the community.''

``So far the Government has failed the big test - Ministers have blunted Patten's forward looking and radical agenda and come up with a Bill that is begrudging and second rate.

McNamara also re-emphasised the need for a new beginning for policing: ``If we are to put the past behind us, the old-style RUC has to go. The old-guard must accept change - whether in the name, the flag, the emblems or the habits of yesterday. A new beginning was promised on policing - the time has come to deliver that promise.''
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