16/01/2002

US special envoy urges Sinn Féin to join Policing Board

US President George Bush’s special envoy to Northern Ireland has urged Sinn Féin to drop its objections to the new Police Board.

Mr Richard Haass said it was in republicans’ own interest to put forward representatives to serve on the board alongside the other main political parties - including the SDLP.

Following a meeting in London with Northern Ireland Secretary Dr John Reid on Wednesday January 16, Mr Haass said Sinn Féin’s participation on the board would ease the conditions for further demilitarisation by the British government.

“I believe that Sinn Féin taking the decision to appoint people to the Police Board, to stop discouraging people from joining the new police service, is clearly something that would be in the interest of all the people of Northern Ireland,” he said.

“That seems to me to go a long way towards creating a safer and more secure Northern Ireland and that in turn will, I believe, make it easier for the British Government to take decisions to continue the normalisation of their security presence.”

Mr Haass also detailed a future training relationship that is currently being explored between the FBI and the PSNI.

Mr Haass also met with members of the new Northern Ireland Police Board during a round of talks with political leaders in Belfast on Wednesday. He is scheduled to meet with Sinn Féin on Thursday. A spokesman for Sinn Féin said Gerry Adams would be meeting with Mr Haass to set out their concerns and seek his help in moving the British government back to the objective for policing set down in the Good Friday Agreement. (AMcE)

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