15 December 2005

Orde: It's time for Sinn Fein to wise up

Belfast Telegraph

By Sean O'Driscoll
15 December 2005

Senior republicans need to "wise up" and stop thanking the police behind closed doors for stopping loyalist riots while refusing to endorse the police in public, according to Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde.

Speaking at the National Committee on American Foreign Policy in New York on Tuesday, Sir Hugh said that his force never gets public praise from republicans, even though senior republicans thank him in private for defending their communities against loyalist attacks.

"I think republicans need to move on and wise up," he said.

He said the situation emphasised the need for Sinn Fein to publicly support the Police Service of Northern Ireland and join the policing board.

"I don't think its tenable for them to stay outside any longer," he said, before adding that Northern Ireland was still in a position where republicans will not acknowledge that the police have made very significant changes.

He said that republicans were very grateful that loyalists were unable to penetrate police lines during mass loyalist rioting on September 10 and accepted that police held the line even thought they were being shot at by loyalists.

"I got feedback from senior republicans behind the scenes saying: 'We understand what you did, we take no pleasure in the fact that you were shot at and we recognise that you protected our communities but we are incapable or unwilling to say that publicly.'

"I don't think that's acceptable. I think they need to move on and wise up in that regard" he said.

Sir Hugh said that republicans are not enrolling as police officers but said that a decision by Sinn Fein to join the policing board would "open the floodgates", he said.

"There are people out there who are just waiting for that positive endorsement on policing. It seems to me to be the way to change policing," he said.

And he added that there were already more people joining the policing from the nationalist areas west of the Bann river than from the loyalist Shankill Road in Belfast.

Sir Hugh was stopping off in New York after briefing senior police officers in San Diego on Northern Ireland policing methods.

He said senior San Diego officers could not believe the restraint shown by Northern Ireland officers during the loyalist riots.

He said that his officers were shot at 150 times during the riot and only fired six live rounds back, and joked that they only hit two people because his officers were not very good shots.

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