30/09/2003

SF hit out at Policing Board intimidation figures

Sinn Fein have hit out a survey from the Policing Board which suggests that an increasing number of Catholics are refusing to join the PSNI because of intimidation from republicans.

The Policing Board's 2002-2003 report, published on Tuesday, said that 72% of Catholics questioned, a rise from last years 65%, cited fear of intimidation or attack as a reason not to join the police.

However, Sinn Fein policing spokesperson, Gerry Kelly described the figures as a smokescreen to disguise the fact that current policing arrangements are not supported by the majority of nationalists.

He said: "Today’s announcement from the Policing Board claiming that low Catholic recruitment to the PSNI is the result of fear of intimidation is simply a smokescreen to explain the reluctance of Catholics and nationalists to be part of inadequate policing requirements.

“This is clear from the Policing Boards own statistics which claims that Catholic support for the PSNI has risen by only 2.9% from 8.9% to 11.7%. This illustrates the real reason for low Catholic recruitment.

”We need to achieve full democratic accountability in policing and critically the transfer of Policing and Justice powers from securocrats in London to a locally elected Assembly.”

Meanwhile, UUP leader David Trimble has said that Republicans must face down those elements who are profiting from illegal activity.

The Upper Bann MP was speaking at a fringe meeting organised by the UUP at the Labour Party's annual conference in Bournemouth.

He said that there was only a short window of opportunity for paramilitaries to help create the condition for restoring devolution in Northern Ireland and that a November 13 election meant the political deadlock would have to be broken in the next fortnight.

(MB)

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