11/02/2002

Reid calls on Sinn Féin to join Policing Board

The Northern Ireland Secretary of State has once again called on Sinn Féin to take up their seats on the Police Board.

Dr John Reid made his appeal before embarking to the US for a series of meetings with senior Washington officials about the current state of the peace process. The minister is planning to consult with Secretary of State Colin Powell, US attorney general John Ashcroft and the White House special advisor on Northern Ireland Richard Haass.

In a clear reference to Sinn Féin, Dr Reid spoke of those outside the Police Board "who are demanding constant confrontation and who are attempting to use every issue that comes up to criticise or undermine the Police Board and the police service, now will be seen to be doing that".

He continued: "And I am saying, as Richard Haass and the American administration have said all along to the republican representatives, you should be in this police board."

Dr Reid's plea came one month after special advisor Haass issued his call for the republican party to join the board. Mr Haass went further on that occasion and demanded that republicans should "stop discouraging people from joining the new police service".

There are 19 members on the board which replaced the Police Authority last year – 10 of whom are political and the rest are comprised of independents. Sinn Féin has consistently refused to take its two seats on the board and is the only major political party in Northern Ireland not to do so.

Speaking about his hopes for US visit, Mr Reid said: "First of all I am going to update the US administration on the progress in the peace process. To that end I will be meeting Richard Haass and the attorney general and thanking them for their continuing involvement and support.

"But my visit also has a broader purpose. We are going to discuss the experiences we have had in combating terrorism and how to do that in a democratic society. That is naturally the primary concern of everyone in the US after September 11."

(GMcG)

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