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January 28, 2007

Follow-Up Stories on Ard Fheis Decision

News About Ireland & The Irish

IT 01/28/07 SF Votes To Support PSNI
AP 01/28/07 Sinn Fein Votes To Back Police - A 1st
WP 01/28/07 Sinn Fein Backs N.Irish Police In Historic Vote
IT 01/28/07 Orde Welcomes SF Policing Move


SF Votes To Support PSNI

Sun, Jan 28, 2007

Today's extraordinary Sinn Féin ardfheis has voted overwhelmingly
in favour of a leadership motion expressing support for the
Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Speaking moments after the vote was taken, party President Gerry
Adams described the decision as "truly historic" and said the
potential had been created to change the political landscape of
the island "forever."

Delegates overwhelmingly backed party leader Gerry Adams and
Martin McGuinness's call for the party to support the PSNI.

"Its significance will be how we use this decision to move our
struggle forward," Mr Adams said.

Calling on the unionist community to respond positively to
today's decision, he said there was a need for "an historic
compromise" between the communities and for "a real dialogue - an
anti-sectarian dialogue between nationalism, republicanism and

Mr Adams described the yes vote as "one of the most important
decisions in the recent history of our country." He told the
ardfheis: "The decision we have reached is truly historic. We can
use this decision to advance our struggle. He added: "I am
confirmed in my confidence that Sinn Féin has the talent, vision,
determination and ability to build a new Ireland."

A lengthy six hour debate was dramatically cut short as the
leadership forced a vote which will see the party move to take
its place on policing bodies in Northern Ireland in the event of
power-sharing returning.

Earlier, the Sinn Féin leader called on his party to express
support for the Police Service of Northern Ireland saying
republicans would move into a new phase of their fight for a
united Ireland if they support the police north of the border.

Mr Adams told delegates Sinn Féin would remain united regardless
of what opposition was expressed at today's meeting.

"The time is now right and I am appealing to you comrades to
support this motion," he said. "Some of you may disagree. That is
perfectly acceptable. "For example, Ógra (Sinn Féin's youth wing)
disagrees with us on this issue.

"I wish they didn't but I respect their position and I especially
commend their resolve to accept the outcome of this ard fheis
(party conference) debate. "That is the way all of us need to
face in today's discussions."

Mr Adams also said the Republic needed to catch up with the
policing accountability mechanisms north of the border.

Mr Adams rounded on the SDLP, claiming it had failed to confront
the issue of security force collusion with loyalist

"My friends we cannot leave policing to the unionist parties or
the SDLP or the Irish Government," he said. "We certainly cannot
leave it to the British Government. "We cannot leave it to the
securocrats. "So let's have our debate and let's take our

Moving the motion, Sinn Féin chief negotiator Martin McGuinness
referred to last week's revelations of collusion within the RUC
and urged delegates to deliver a resounding 'yes' to usher in a
new phase of political success for the party.

Former IRA prisoner and Sinn Féin representative, Paul Butler
said: "I have been interrogated and brutalised by the police. It
is difficult for me to make a decision because of my personal
experiences of policing." But supporting the motion, he added:
"Those who want maximum change must be prepare to take maximum

Activist Seán Oliver from north Belfast said that his local
community knew all about bad policing. He claimed that the PSNI
didn't properly investigate crimes against nationalists. He added
that today's debate should mark the demise of the last of three
pillars of unionism following the ending of the supremacy of the
Orange Order and the one-party state in Northern Ireland .

Activist Seán MacBrádaigh said to loud applause: "A Republican
searchlight must shine into the deepest, darkest recesses of the
PSNI." Another delegate quoted the late republican Joe Cahill's
famous words: "We have won the war, now let's win the peace."

© 2007


Sinn Fein Votes To Back Police - A 1st

Shawn Pogatchnik
Associated Press

DUBLIN, Ireland - Sinn Fein members overwhelmingly voted Sunday
to begin cooperating with the Northern Ireland police, a long-
unthinkable commitment that could spur the return of a Catholic-
Protestant administration for the British territory.

The result - confirmed by a sea of raised hands but no formally
recorded vote - meant Sinn Fein, once a hard-left party committed
to a socialist revolution, has abandoned its decades-old
hostility to law and order.

The vote, taken after daylong debate among 2,000 Sinn Fein
stalwarts, represented a stunning triumph for Sinn Fein chief
Gerry Adams, the former Irish Republican Army commander who has
spent 24 years edging his IRA-linked party away from terror and
toward compromise.

It strongly improved the chances of reviving power-sharing, the
long-elusive goal of the 1998 Good Friday peace pact, by
Britain's deadline of March 26.

"Today you have created the potential to change the political
landscape on this island forever," Adams told the conference.

Earlier, many speakers said for decades they had dreamed of
defeating the province's mostly Protestant police force and
forcing Northern Ireland into the Irish Republic.

Some IRA veterans recalled beatings inflicted on them by
detectives during interrogations. Others noted they had served
long prison sentences for attacks on police, more than 300 of
whom were killed during the IRA's failed 1970-1997 campaign.

But nearly all speakers said they were voting to dump their
party's anti-police position for the sake of peace.

"This shows that the war is over. And if the war is over, we have
to build the peace," Adams said in an interview during an earlier
break in debate.

Other Sinn Fein leaders sought to cloak their vote in bellicose
terms, arguing that their position as the major Catholic-backed
party in Northern Ireland meant they would be able to tell police
commanders what to do.

"We have to boss policing, because we are the bosses," said Sinn
Fein's deputy leader Martin McGuinness, who according to police
and the Irish government was an IRA commander from the early
1970s until last year.

McGuinness said the expected strong "yes" vote to policing
wouldn't mean people in Sinn Fein power bases should be expected
to welcome police into their communities.

"They're going to have to earn our trust. And we will let them
know that they are going to be the servants of the people, not
the other way around," McGuinness said.

At stake is the revival of power-sharing, the central goal of the
U.S.-brokered Good Friday peace accord of 1998. A previous
coalition collapsed in 2002 amid chronic Protestant-Sinn Fein
infighting over the IRA's future.

Since then the Democratic Unionists, who represent most of the
province's British Protestant majority, have insisted they will
form a Cabinet alongside Sinn Fein only if Adams' party
demonstrates support for law and order in areas where, from 1970
to 2005, justice often was administered with IRA bullets to the
legs of petty criminals.

Crucially, however, the party motion approved Sunday commits Sinn
Fein to begin supporting the police only after power-sharing is
revived - and only if the Democratic Unionists agree to transfer
control of Northern Ireland's justice system, including the
police, from Britain to local hands by May 2008.

The Democratic Unionists are refusing to make either commitment
until they see Sinn Fein's behavior to the police change.

In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Sinn Fein's
policing shift would be only the start of a critical period in

"We will determine whether we have a basis for the future in
Northern Ireland, that allows us to have power-sharing ... on a
solid basis for the first time ever," said Blair, who has made
brokering compromise with Sinn Fein a major goal since rising to
power a decade ago.

© 2007 AP Wire and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.


Sinn Fein Backs N.Irish Police In Historic Vote

By Chris Baldwin
Sunday, January 28, 2007; 1:18 PM

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein voted to end
decades of opposition to Northern Ireland's police force on
Sunday, removing a key obstacle to the restoration of a regional
power-sharing government in the British province.

The party, political ally of the Irish Republican Army (IRA)
which killed nearly 300 police officers during a 30-year campaign
against British rule, voted overwhelmingly at a special meeting
in Dublin to back the Protestant-dominated force.

The vote, a momentous step for Sinn Fein, could end political
stalemate in Northern Ireland after the suspension in 2002 of a
power-sharing assembly between majority pro-British Protestants
and a Catholic minority who want a united Ireland.

Backing for the rule of law is required by the province's biggest
pro-British Protestant grouping, the Democratic Unionist Party
(DUP), before it will consider sharing power in a Belfast-based
assembly set up under a 1998 peace deal.

"The decision we have taken today is truly historic," Sinn Fein
leader Gerry Adams said at the end of the conference, which was
attended by more than 2,000 delegates.

"You have created the opportunity to significantly advance our
struggle -- it's now up to you," he told the gathering.

Sinn Fein's predominantly Catholic support base has long viewed
the province's justice system as favoring Protestants.

No one from the DUP was immediately available to comment but the
party has repeatedly said it will wait to see proof of Sinn
Fein's commitment before making any final decisions.

More than 3,600 people were killed in Northern Ireland's
conflict, with the IRA responsible for nearly half the deaths.

Violence has subsided over the past decade and the province is
enjoying increased prosperity, but the two communities remain
deeply divided and political cooperation has proved difficult.


There had been speculation that a report earlier this week
detailing collusion between senior Northern Ireland police
officers and Protestant killers could stiffened resistance among
hardliners but the Sinn Fein leadership held up the revelations
as further reason to become involved in law and order.

Reassurances by the British government in recent weeks about
limiting the role of spy service MI5 in the province's security
arrangements, and restrictions on the use of plastic bullets have
also helped ease Sinn Fein jitters.

The result was welcomed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair who
wants to break the impasse in Northern Ireland before he leaves
office this year.

"The Prime Minister welcomes this historic decision and
recognizes the leadership it has taken to get to this point," a
spokesman said.

Earlier, Blair said developments were at a critical stage, with a
solid basis for the province's future within grasp.

"What a fantastic thing that would be -- instead of waking up as
we used to years ago to violence and terrorism in Northern
Ireland, we have the prospect of peace," he told the BBC.

The regional government, which London and Dublin hope will resume
work by March 26, folded four years ago after a spying scandal
shattered an already fragile cross-party administration.

© 2007 Reuters


Orde Welcomes SF Policing Move

Sun, Jan 28, 2007

PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde has welcomed today's decision
by Sinn Féin to change its policy on policing.

"Today's decision is welcome. Our view has always been that
policing is a public service which every member of the community
should be able to access on an equal and equitable basis. I have
always said that no ideology or individual should stand between
the public and that service and that the community is entitled to
have their public representatives hold this police service to

Mr Orde issued the statement soon after the party passed a motion
that will allow Sinn Féin to sit on policing bodies and to
encourage nationalists to join the Police Service of Northern

"I believe that the community has recognised for some time now
the value and importance of the professional and dedicated
service provided by the officers and staff of the Police Service
of Northern Ireland on a daily basis," Mr Orde said.

"I recognise and pay tribute to the courage and determination of
people both inside and outside the police service who have
enabled us to arrive at this moment. It marks another step along
a road which has travelled through some difficult territory and
visited pain and hurt on many families, including policing

"It is important that we don't forget that history at this moment
but we should be comforted by the potential now for a better
future. Our shared objective should be to secure a safer Northern
Ireland for everyone."

© 2007

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