21/08/2001

Reid calls on parties to sign up to policing plan

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Dr John Reid has expressed confidence that the cross community policing board to oversee the new police service will be set up by the end of September.

Speaking in Londonderry on Tuesday, Dr Reid acknowledged his midday deadline for parties to accept the implementation plan of the police service had passed but also acknowledged it would take a little longer for all the parties to be ready.

To date the SDLP are the only party to sign up to the police board and accept the implementation plan. Sinn Féin have rejected the proposals while the Democratic Unionist Party and Ulster Unionist Party have decided to take more time to consider the package.

However Dr Reid said it was his “confident hope and expectation that by the end of September we shall have established the first ever Policing Board in Northern Ireland to command political support from both sides of the community”.

He said the SDLP’s decision on Monday to nominate to the Policing Board was a “cultural shift every bit as great as unionists have been asked to make”.

He added: “None of them is, or is going to be, 100 per cent satisfied. All of us know that in a democracy, no one, not even Governments, can refuse to move forward just because they do not get everything they want.

“That is why I shall take no satisfaction if any single party refuses to join the Policing Board.

“Any refusal is not only a loss to the process, it denies people their own constituency rights. Their right to be represented in the new police service. Their right to see the men and women they elected playing a full part in every area of life in Northern Ireland. But let no-one say that the opportunity is not there.”

Dr Reid stressed that the people and the politicians who represent them must take responsibility for and claim ownership of this process, he concluded: “We all have to accept a degree of compromise for the greater good and to promote change from within the system, not hang back until the circumstances suit.” (AMcE)

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