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8 August 2002 Edition

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SDLP running for cover on policing

Sinn Féin Assembly Group Leader Conor Murphy has said that the SDLP are increasingly desperate in their search for political cover over mistakes in joining the Policing Board.

"In recent weeks, high level SDLP supporters such as 'independent' Policing Board members Tom Kelly and Denis Bradley, have tried to present an argument for Sinn Féin joining the Policing Board," said the Newry Armagh Assembly member. "These increasingly desperate attempts to provide political cover for the mistakes of the SDLP mirror the nervousness of many local SDLP councillors who are being forced onto the local District Policing Boards.

"Sinn Féin's position is crystal clear. We will not look at endorsing policing until the British government bring forward the legislation which they have admitted, along with the SDLP, Irish government and ourselves, is required to bridge the current deficit in accountability. The reality is that the Policing Board is unable to hold the PSNI to account.

"For two years, loyalists have waged a sectarian campaign against nationalists. The PSNI appear to be powerless, or perhaps unwilling, to do anything to stop this sectarian onslaught. Policing Board deputy chair Denis Bradley and a large number of SDLP elected representatives have admitted as much.

"Sinn Féin joining a toothless Policing Board will not bridge the policing deficit and the SDLP know this. Whether the British government live up to commitments on putting the policing deficit right will be the basis of Sinn Féin's decisions on policing. However, the argument would be stronger if the SDLP had not jumped, at the behest of David Trimble, in the aftermath of a poor election last year. Sinn Féin will ensure that people get the new beginning to policing promised in the Good Friday Agreement."
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