Alex Attwood reckons that Sinn Fein’s Ard Chomhairle’s decision is an unalloyed positive move. But of course there are conditions. The ball, he reckons, is now in the DUP court.From Alex Attwood
“The provision of Sinn Fein’s is welcome and brings a sense of relief. It is welcome that having called policing so wrong for so long, Sinn Fein are now moving in the direction of doing the right thing. There is a sense of relief that in the near future anybody will have the freedom to join the police, to assist the police, or participate in policing structures after recent years of those same people being demonised.
“The nationalist community have made it increasingly clear its view on the new policing arrangements. Thousands have been applying to join the police. International experts confirm that 85% of Patten has been substantially or fully accomplished in only 5 years with the rest of Patten being pushed on by the Policing Board and policing structures. The PSNI is clearly a very different service than the old RUC. This has been achieved and driven by the work of the SDLP. Sinn Fein’s belated acceptance of policing sits in stark contrast with the success and achievement of the SDLP and policing structure over the last five and six years.
“Sinn Fein has said that if the DUP respond positively then the Ard Fheis would take place in January. The Ard Fheis should take place in January because Irish democracy requires all parties to accept the rule of law and policing. Sinn Fein must continue to do the right thing on policing and not wait and see if the DUP blink. If Sinn Fein do wait, it conveys a sense that republicans do things for the DUP and not for the people of Ireland. This is one occasion when the right thing must be done and there should be not doubt about it.”