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Initial Statement by the Ulster Unionist Party in response to the Patten Report, 9 September 1999

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Research: Fionnuala McKenna
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Statement by the Ulster Unionist Party in response to the Patten Report, Thursday 9 september 1999.

We are mindful of the service and sacrifice by all those brave RUC officers who have served the community, saved innumerable lives, thwarted terrorism and created the present opportunity for peace and stability.

Changes to policing in Northern Ireland will flow from an end to terrorist violence. Those changes are set out by the RUC's own Fundamental Review of Policing and various reports of Her Majestyís Inspector of Constabulary.

Beyond that the only change that is really needed is to have many more Catholics serving the community in the police. All that is needed to achieve that is an to intimidation. Positive support from the Catholic community for Catholics who join the police is the most important change.

Instead of an insistence on this point, the Patten Commission has allowed itself to be diverted into a gratuitous insult by stripping the service of its name, badge and flag.

The ban on the flag runs counter to the constitutional provisions of the Belfast Agreement: abolition of the badge disregards the Commissionís own terms of reference which enjoin emblems representative of the community as a whole.

The substantive recommendations raise concerns with regard to local accountability, the Balkanisation of policing, and the emasculation of the policeís anti-terrorist capability. These matters and others will require careful study.

Government will need to consult thoroughly before itself deciding and society will require assurance that changes will only occur as the security situation permits.

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