A Sinn Fein advertising push on the party's policing plans was dismissed by the DUP today as "just more words".
A glossy, four-page pamphlet published by Sinn Fein and distributed with yesterday's Belfast Telegraph says this Sunday's special ard fheis could open the potential for the "full involvement" of republicans in policing.
But DUP MLA Arlene Foster indicated her party is still waiting for Sinn Fein to go beyond statements and arrive at actual support.
Mrs Foster said: "There is nothing new in this. It is just more words and what we need to see is deeds - delivery."
A yes vote at Sunday's special ard fheis will not immediately commit the party to support for the PSNI. Instead, it will allow the Sinn Fein executive to trigger support when a new Stormont Executive is formed and there is a commitment to devolve justice and policing.
Ulster Unionist Lord Maginnis, the party's former security spokesman, said he remains suspicious of the appearance of republicans "suddenly wanting to become almost an institutional part of the United Kingdom".
"I am very suspicious of the sincerity of the Provisional IRA. I think they are just being clever," he said.
"I would always be suspicious when things appear to be coming together too neatly.
"We have the constant erosion of the way of life of, if I may use the phrase, ordinary, decent people across Northern Ireland while the emphasis is constantly on the Labour Party's 'hug-a-Provo' approach. It is the way things could have come together after 1998 but now we are seeing a form of compromise with no built-in safeguards."
The Sinn Fein leaflet said the party had worked to dismantle the RUC and the violence and oppression "which has been the policing experience of nationalists since partition".
Party president Gerry Adams said the policing issue is difficult for many nationalists and republicans "not because we oppose law-and-order but because our experience is of a police service which served only one section of the community and which was involved in murder, torture, collusion and shoot-to-kill."
The glossy document said, however, that if the ard fheis in Dublin on Sunday adopts the proposed motion "then we will have the potential, for the first time ever, for the full involvement by Irish republicans in policing structures across the island."
It made clear that the ard fheis will mandate the party's ard chomhairle (executive) to implement the motion which includes commitments that Sinn Fein will "robustly" support:
- active encouragement of everyone to "co-operate fully" with police and active support of criminal justice institutions
- authorisation for Sinn Fein ministers to take the ministerial Pledge of Office; and
- appointment of representatives to the Policing Board and District Policing Partnerships.
Mr Adams said he believed the point had been reached for taking the next step which would advance the search for a just and lasting peace in Ireland.
"Almost eight years after the Good Friday Agreement it would be entirely wrong to allow the most negative elements of unionism a veto over republican and nationalist efforts to achieve the new beginning to policing," the West Belfast MP said.
The paper said the party has secured profound changes on accountability and major advances in demilitarisation, pointing in particular to:
- reversing Government plans to integrate MI5 with the PSNI
- a commitment by Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde that plastic bullets will not be used for crowd control
- "no place in the PSNI for those guilty of human rights abuses" .
The pamphlet argues that the SDLP claimed the integration of MI5 with the PSNI as a "victory for their negotiators" - a "fundamental mistake" with the British agreeing over Christmas "that MI5 would be entirely separate from the PSNI".
But the SDLP's Policing and Justice spokesman Alex Attwood said his party did not accept the proposals, known as Annex E, at St Andrews.
"Indeed, hours after the British Government published Annex E, the SDLP handed over a document to the two governments, outlining why Annex E was not acceptable," he said.
"And all the time, Sinn Fein were silent. But worse was to follow. Sinn Fein then negotiated and welcomed an even bigger role for MI5 in the North.
"Sinn Fein have now signed off on a new MI5 HQ in Holywood, the recruitment of more MI5 staff and an even bigger and damaging role for MI5, including MI5 running republican agents.
"Sinn Fein not only committed the worst of negotiating blunders, but have created conditions where MI5 can get up to all sorts of mischief and wrong-doing in the North.
The Policing Board member said he again urged Sinn Fein to back away from its "dangerously flawed approach" and join with the SDLP in opposing MI5.