03 December 2005

SF urged to join police board

Daily Ireland

Policing body to reveal details of 215 new DPP members

Eamonn Houston

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Click to view - Denis Bradley

The outgoing vice-chairman of the North’s policing board last night warned republicans that MI5 and British security services will be allowed to continue to operate freely in the North if Sinn Féin remains “on the outside” of policing arrangements.
Denis Bradley, who was brutally beaten by republican dissidents in a pub attack in Derry in September, was speaking as the Policing Board appointed the 215 members of District Policing Partnerships. His comments also came after allegations of political policing by the PSNI over the arrests and questioning of four people – including Sinn Féin MLA, Francie Brolly – in connection with the 1972 Claudy bombing.
According to Mr Bradley, the absence of republican involvement in a forthcoming debate over the devolution of powers in Britain, could result in British security services continuing to operate with a free hand in the north under the cover of “national security”.
He said: “I think that it is about time that republicans dealt with a massive issue – the forthcoming devolution bill. The Special Branch has been described as a force within a force, but there is the issue of MI5 and the British security services. That, in the view of the British government is an issue of national security. Republicans are not facing or dealing with that. They [security services] are here as long as England are here.”
Speaking to Daily Ireland, Mr Bradley urged Sinn Féin to become centrally involved in the policing debate and refuted claims that political policing is being deployed in the north.
“There is not an issue of political policing,” he said. “Policing needs to be taken to the working class on both sides of the religious divide.
“I think that it’s about time for republicans to face this issue.
“I stand on the Patten recommendations. I believe that all intelligence-based policing should be monitored.
“What I would say to any political party is, if they are not happy, get in there and pull your weight.”
The Policing Board will today reveal details of the 215 members of the DPPs. Chairman of the board, Sir Desmond Rea, said that the appointments marked “another very significant day for the community and for policing.”
Mr Bradley said: “The journey is well started and, for me, it has been an interesting social experience. The more people involved the better. Today’s appointments demonstrate that policing is a central issue. People are recognising that this is a central issue. Unfortunately, republicans feel that they cannot take part in this. What I have seen is the tall, the small, the rich the poor, the rural and the urban get involved. This is a devolution of justice and I would expect republicans to get involved in that. People are ready for neighbourhood and grassroots policing.
“For too long police officers have lived apart from their communities. It was the preserve of the middle class. Policing needs to be as efficient and educated as possible and that only comes through living in communities.”
Mr Bradley also said that recent “political disruption” had masked what he described as the true issues of policing. He said that policemen should, ideally, be living in the heart of nationalist and loyalist areas of the North.
On Wednesday evening, Sinn Féin chief negotiator, Martin McGuinness condemned the arrest of the popular Sinn Féin Co Derry MLA Francie Brolly and three others as “the most blatant examples of political policing by the PSNI I have experienced”.
The DPP appointments include 11 Alliance councillors, 98 Democratic Unionist Councillors, nine Independent councillors, one Progressive Unionist Councillor, 56 SDLP Councillors and 64 Ulster Unionist Party councillors.


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