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Statement by Mr. Seamus Mallon (SDLP), on the Police (NI) Bill, 16 May 2000

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Research: Fionnuala McKenna
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Statement issued by the deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), Mr. Seamus Mallon following the publication of the Police (Northern Ireland) Bill, 16 May 2000

The publication of the Police Bill is overdue and it will now be carefully scrutinised by the SDLP. We feel we must reiterate our disappointment at the failure to implement unambiguously Patten’s recommendations on the name, flag and symbols of the new police service.

This failure raises the concern that we are witnessing Government by concession. Moreover, the SDLP has immediately identified other issues of real concern in the Police Bill. The powers of the Policing Board, the centrality of human rights, the appointment of Board members, the future of the full-time reserve, the powers of the Police Ombudsman and a statutory basis for the work of the Oversight Commissioner, are core issues on which the SDLP shall seek and require from the British Government, that Patten is and will be reflected in law and delivered in practice.

In order to bring about a new beginning for policing, the legislation, the implementation plan and the work of the Oversight Commissioner must ensure that the promise of the Patten report is translated fully and faithfully into law, policy and practice. We will very carefully consider these three elements together to determine if the new beginning to policing which is required and to which the SDLP wishes to subscribe, is being delivered in full, in good time and consistent with Patten.

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