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6 April 2000 Edition

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Unionism rallies behind RUC

Senior Sinn Féin figures Mitchel McLaughlin and Bairbre de Brún travel to London today, Thursday 6 April, to ensure a nationalist presence at the British Houses of Parliament in advance of a unionist-inspired debate on the RUC.

The Ulster Unionists, as part of their strategy to block political change in the Six Counties, have turned their wrath on the Patten Report and want the British government to annul it, despite the fact that Patten was one of the elements of the Good Friday Agreement to which they signed up.

The Patten Report, which discussed the issue of policing in the Six Counties in general and the role of the RUC in particular, is anathema to unionists, hence the debate.

Unionists hope to force the British government, by winning the debate on the RUC's future, to scrap Patten, and with the Tory party rowing in behind them, they have approached the debate with a spring in their step. However their fanciful notion that the ``sovereign will of parliament'' will overturn Tony Blair's majority is just that, fanciful.

The real reason for this debate is the tension that exists within the Ulster Unionist Party. David Trimble, faced with David Burnside's motion to the Ulster Unionist Council (UUC) linking future political negotiations and the re-establishment of the Executive to the demand that the RUC name not be changed, opted for a Commons debate.

The unionist attempt to block Patten is the latest round in a battle to block all political change. The debate around Patten has always been a political one and Unionist opposition has nothing to do with policing in civil society.

All societies and communities need and want a police service run by people who have the interest of those communities at heart.

The RUC has never been a policing service; it has always been a paramiliary force whose interests are inextricably linked to those of unionism.

An Phoblacht
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