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24 August 2000 Edition

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Sinn Féin blasts Flanagan's opimism

In a staunch warning to the British government, Sinn Féin's Mitchel McLaughlin has blasted remarks made by the RUC Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan during last Friday's final RUC passing out parade.

Sinn Féin's Foyle MLA said he does not share the view expressed by Flanagan that the parade would mark a new era in policing.

``Unfortunately, as an Irish republican I cannot share his optimism,'' said McLaughlin. ``We in Sinn Féin believe that Chris Patten, despite his political background, made an honest attempt to solve the policing issue. The British government have chosen to ignore this.

``The Patten Commission did come up with what could have formed a basis for a new beginning to policing. However Patten, for nationalists, did not go far enough and if the British government comes up with anything less that Patten, then Sinn Féin will not be recommending the Mandelson Police Force as a career choice for young republicans and nationalists.

McLaughlin concluded: ``Republicans want and need the security of decent, democratic and accountable policing. The Mandelson Policing Bill fails to deliver this.'' He added that the Mandelson Policing bill merely offers a continuity of the present, discredited RUC and that is why he cannot share Flanagan's optimism.
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