Orde hails 'positive' talks with Sinn Féin

Talks between Sinn Féin and the Police Service of Northern Ireland focussed on trying to build a better understanding of each other, Chief Constable Hugh Orde said today.

Talks between Sinn Féin and the Police Service of Northern Ireland focussed on trying to build a better understanding of each other, Chief Constable Hugh Orde said today.

After emerging from four-hour face-to-face talks at Hillsborough Castle, Orde and Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams described their dialogue as constructive.

The talks followed hard-hitting criticism of each other's organisations in recent weeks.

The Chief Constable said: "I am not sure there has been a disagreement (in recent weeks).

"There has been a frank exchange of views and I think that is what is healthy about policing in Northern Ireland.

"We are prepared to have those discussions. We are prepared to agree to disagree and to have a conversation to see where the common ground is, and the common ground today was around a greater understanding of policing by Sinn Féin and a greater understanding of what their communities want for us.

"I think that is a really positive step forward."

Last month, Adams expressed concerns that the PSNI may not be up to the job of civic policing following the murder of former republican prisoner Frank McGreevy.

Orde hit back earlier this month at the Policing Board, claiming Sinn Féin criticism of his officers was unfair.

However today Mr Adams said while the PSNI still had work to do, there had been positive developments.

"One of the things that we spent a lot of time dealing with in there is how the PSNI engage with nationalists and republicans," the West Belfast MP said.

"I think we did do some good work there. Again the PSNI is a police service in transition.

"Clearly there has been progress - we would be the first ones to acknowledge that and I have said on many occasions there has been progress. There have been positive things happening but there is some more work to be done."

Delegations from the PSNI and Sinn Féin discussed police accountability, crime and anti-social behaviour, legacy issues from the Troubles and how the PSNI could deliver an effective service to the nationalist community.

Among Sinn Féin's team were the Stormont junior minister Gerry Kelly, MEP Bairbre de Brun and Policing Board members Martina Anderson and Alex Maskey.

Deputy Chief Constable Paul Leighton and Assistant Chief Constables Duncan McCausland and Peter Sheridan were among the police delegation.

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