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Bloody Sunday, election, Irish, Ireland, British, Ulster, Unionist, Sinn Féin, SDLP, Ahern, Blair, Irish America

Orde to ask for Adams' help

(by Liam Clarke, Sunday Times)

The chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, will ask Gerry Adams, the Sinn Féin president, to join the force in tackling violent crime in west Belfast.

Sir Hugh Orde will model the proposal on Operation Trident, an initiative he used to reduce "black on black" murders among West Indians in the late 1990s.

Orde hopes a meeting with Adams can stop the war of words between the police and Sinn Féin after the murders of Harry Holland and Frank McGreevy in west Belfast. At McGreevy's funeral, Adams accused the police of failing to respond properly to criminality and being unable to provide the civic policing people needed.

Adams did call for information to be given to the police and more than 100 people have since made statements, but Orde is angry about the mixed message the Sinn Féin president gave. His officers had arrested and charged a man with McGreevy's killing

"It is one thing having a mature debate, but when is the last time you saw that sort of criticism of policing at a republican funeral with what looked like a colour party of men in black shirts?" he said.

Orde hopes a joint approach in which the police co-operate with political, community, church and business interests can improve matters. More sustained Sinn Féin involvement with the police may create the right atmosphere for the devolution of policing powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

"In the late 90s the new phenomena of black on black killings hit the headlines in London. Our clear up rate was about 34% and everyone was slagging everyone else off" Orde said.

"Then we created Trident which was everyone getting round the table – victims, nightclub owners, politician, community workers, NGOs and police all working together. The clear up rate is now over 80%. Engagement works and disengagement is totally dysfunctional."

Orde believes that, although Sinn Féin formally backs policing, it has not yet followed through by providing statements that can be used in prosecutions. He points to Daithi McKay, a Sinn Féin member of the Policing Board, who recently

complained that he had seen drug dealers operating openly in the streets in Portglenone in his North Antrim constituency.

"It is quite proper to raise local issues, but success would have been if, after that implied criticism of police inaction, he had said "I will make a statement, I will identify that person and I will go to court."Orde said.

The chief constable believes that the IRA constituted no current security threat and called for its ruling Army Council to disband. "If you haven't got an army you don't need an army council. It is an illegal organisation and should go."

On the threat from dissident republicans he said they were badly organised. "Many have been arrested but we are not seeing people standing up and saying 'these people are dissident republicans, we will give evidence.'"

Asked whether loyalist paramilitary groups were likely to disarm, he hinted that the UVF might be planning a statement.

"I think the UVF may be closer to it than any of the other groups but they have got to stand up and be counted and when they say something they have got to mean it."

April 7, 2008

This article first appeared in the Sunday Times on April 6, 2008.