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3 December 1998 Edition

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Need for new beginning

It is no surprise that the RUC Police Authority's submission to the Patten Commission recommended leaving the RUC intact.

The Police Authority is a joke organisation. As Sinn Féin's Bairbre de Brun said this week: ``For almost 30 years the Police Authority has been responsible for a force which has been indicted by every major human rights agency in the world. It has, by its support and defence of the RUC, colluded in this behaviour.''

She also said it was ``incredible'' that this ``unrepresentative quango'' should claim that it prevented political interference in the RUC. ``No one, and certainly no nationalist looking back at the RUC's track record, will interpret that as anything other than a lie and a whitewash of the truth.''

The Police Authority has been a body of yes men and women whose function it has been to turn a blind eye to the true nature of the RUC.

Now in their submission on a new policing service they are continuing in their role as defenders of the old order.

The terms of reference of the Patten Commission state that any proposals must ensure that a new policing service's composition, recruitment, training, culture, ethos and symbols are such that they enjoy widespread support from the community as a whole. It further states that the new policing service must be an integral part of the community as a whole.

How does the Police Authority reconcile its submission with those terms of reference?

How does the Police Authority expect their vision of a police force to function in places like Newry, Crossmaglen, Coalisland, Strabane, Derry, West Belfast and all those other nationalist areas where the RUC has been an occupying force?

It is clear. There is a need for a new policing service which offers a new beginning. Any thought of minor tinkering with the failed RUC simply will not work.

Others, within both the Patten Commission and the RUC, are defending the status quo by attacking those who have given evidence at the Commission's public hearings. Accusations that republicans have ``packed'' meetings and ``schooled'' witnesses are a stupid attempt to deflect attention from what these people have actually said. Nowhere have these ``sources'' dealt with the substance of the (often emotional) submissions. That is because it is beyond argument that the RUC have systematically violated human rights. The logical next step from accepting that point is to argue for the force's disbandment.

No wonder there are those who prefer to shoot the messengers.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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