In the Irish News
yesterday last week, Jim Gibney set out his party’s stall on policing. Interestingly, he seems to be saying that Ian Paisley has not met the bar for Sinn Fein’s own self imposed conditions: “Nationalists now need to hear these plain words committing his party to restoring and working the Good Friday Agreement’s democratic institutions.” In effect it is offering to do what the SDLP has been (under the threat of physical attack) doing since the Policing Board was constituted:
In a statement released after the ard chomairle meeting Gerry Adams said that “profound changes had been secured” in intensive negotiations with the British government. These changes allowed him to bring forward the motion for a special Ard Fheis on policing.
These changes include commitments to the devolution of policing and justice to the assembly, support for police services An Garda Siochana and the PSNI and the criminal justice system, appointing Sinn Fein representatives to the policing board and the district policing partnerships to secure fair, impartial and effective policing with the community, hold the police and criminal justices systems fully to account both democratically and legally and to actively encourage everyone in the community to cooperate fully with the police services.
Sinn Fein also committed to ensuring human rights and equality at the heart of any new policing arrangements. They restated their opposition to MI5’s involvement in policing, to plastic bullets and to root out those in the PSNI guilty of human rights abuses.
That’s the stall. But will they slam down the doors on Saturday and drive it at high speed back out of the marketplace?
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty