Sinn Féin’s support for policing is almost inevitable, Northern Ireland’s most senior policeman said today.
Hugh Orde said he was confident that thousands of Sinn Féin delegates meeting in Dublin today would vote for the party’s co-operation with his force.
They are debating a motion from the leadership that Sinn Féin sits on policing scrutiny bodies and encourages nationalists to join the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
“I think it’s pretty inevitable that the ard fheis will vote in support of policing. Certainly, over the last five years the reforms we put in place under the Patten reform programme have shown very clearly we are more than fit for purpose,” Hugh told ITV.
“We are an organisation that all communities can trust and we are prepared to protect those communities.”
Sinn Féin’s forum is part of a deal which could see a restoration of devolved government in the North by March. Republican approval of policing is a key demand of the Irish and British governments as well as local parties.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams and senior colleagues want powers over policing and justice to be devolved to local administrators by 2008.
Chief Constable Orde added: “I think we have a right to say that if this vote goes in the right direction we need to see some tangible outcome.”
He added that nationalists in republican areas should support the investigation of crime and be willing to come forward and help police convict offenders who are terrorising the community.
Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan criticised the PSNI’s predecessor, the Royal Ulster Constabulary for collusion between police and a loyalist murder gang in north Belfast which was responsible for up to 10 deaths in the 1990s.
Chief Constable Orde said the dossier had made “uncomfortable and disturbing” reading but added that changes put in place since then meant the abuses should not happen again.
“It has been a slow but steady progression over the last four and a half years,” he added.