Politics: Plans to reform RUC attacked

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The Independent Online
Plans to make the Royal Ulster Constabulary more accountable were under fire last night from nationalist politicians.

Launching the most far-reaching review of police accountability in 30 years, Mo Mowlam, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said a consultative paper, focusing on how to create greater community participation in the appointment of the police authority, was an effort to produce a more open and accountable policing service.

But Seamus Mallon, deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, said it was superficial and did not even attempt to address the serious problems of policing.

Sinn Fein said it fell far short of what was required. Even Pat Armstrong, the current Police Authority chairman, said he had "reservations" about some of the proposals.

Ms Mowlam told a Belfast news conference: "I wish to make the RUC open and accountable to the whole of Northern Ireland, including those elements of the nationalist community who see weaknesses, not just in the RUC but police authority and would like changes to be made."

But she said any change had to be kept In perspective and she had no plans to answer Sinn Fein's repeated calls for the disbandment of the RUC. The document gave a series of options for change. They included the Secretary of State continuing to appoint members, but on a more geographical basis; elections to the authority; drawing members from political parties in relation to their elected strength, or a hybrid of the two.

But Sinn Fein's chief negotiator, Martin McGuinness, said: "The RUC are unacceptable to the nationalist people in any guise. They cannot be reformed."