15 December 2005

Soldiers’ Christmas comeback


Councillor slams British army participation in PSNI Christmas crackdown

by Roisin McManus

Sinn Féin West Belfast MLA Fra McCann has slammed the decision by the PSNI to use the British Army in increased patrols in the North in the run-up to Christmas.

The PSNI have announced that they will step up patrols before Christmas and will use the British army “where appropriate”. This is a response, they say, to a number of devices being found in the North recently.

The PSNI say that the pre Christmas operation will involve vehicle checkpoints and possibly searches of vehicles and people. But Councillor McCann said the decision sends out a very clear message to nationalists and republicans of the distance still to be travelled before an accountable civic policing service is reached.

“The British army have no role to play in the future of policing in the six counties,” said Councillor McCann.

“No policing service accompanied by heavily armed British soldiers will be acceptable to nationalist communities in the North. That is the reality,” he added.

The local councillor said that the decision would further alienate republicans and nationalists from the PSNI.

“The decision to use the British Army to accompany the PSNI over Christmas shows once again just how out of touch with nationalist and republican opinion both the senior leadership in the PSNI and indeed those on the Policing Board actually are,” said Councillor McCann.

Assistant Chief Constable of the PSNI, Peter Sheridan, said, “There is a minority in our society which does not want to move on. We are determined to do everything we can to thwart their efforts.

“People will notice an increase of police on the streets between now and Christmas, where appropriate we will be assisted by our military colleagues.
“The operation will involve vehicle checkpoints and possibly searches of vehicles and people. We ask the public to co-operate with us,” he added.

When contacted by the Andersonstown News a spokeswoman from the PSNI said that she could not comment on the number of soldiers expected to be involved in the operation.

“We use the army as and when appropriate and we will continue to do so,” she said.

Journalist:: Roisin McManus

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