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Sinn Fein pledges to 'put manners' on PSNI

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Gerry Adams speaking to a packed audience at the Millennium Forum last night

Gerry Adams speaking to a packed audience at the Millennium Forum last night

Gerry Adams speaking to a packed audience at the Millennium Forum last night

The Sinn Fein leadership has vowed to "put manners" on the PSNI while attempting to do the same with dissidents at a packed meeting in Londonderry.

Up to 1,300 people filled into the Millennium Forum to hear Gerry Adams, North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly and MEP Bairbre de Brun outline the party's position on policing and justice in the run-up to the crucial ard fheis on policing on Sunday.

Some 200 people gathered in the hall of the theatre after the 1,100 capacity venue filled up to listen to proceedings on loudspeakers.

On the same day that party chief negotiator Martin McGuinness received more death threats, he and his party answered questions from the floor on the continued presence of MI5 in Ireland, whether young people should support the PSNI, and why Sinn Fein had not done more to woo dissenting voices.

Queries about collusion were also posed, and the party hierarchy did not have an easy ride.

From the podium, Mr Adams said that he met with people opposed to Sinn Fein's position.

"Some frank words have been said and some hard words have been said, which I thought were unfortunate," he said.

"If this motion goes through at the ard fheis, it is about putting manners on the police."

Mr Adams said that his calls to meet had been publicly rebuffed by Republican Sinn Fein and the 32 County Sovereignty Movement.

To loud applause, he added that unlike the IRA, neither the CIRA nor RIRA had "the military capacity, the military strategy or support in the communities from which they come".

"We have moved on from one stage of the struggle to another. It is now time to build our political strengths," he said.

On dealing with the unionist "elite" he said: "We have to shut down their options and move them towards new options - a green Ireland, a republican Ireland. They have to appreciate that the old days are gone.

He added that he wanted "permission" from the electorate to support policing, and added that the PSNI has to earn the confidence and respect of young people, saying: "If our grandchildren do positive work they will live in a united Ireland."

Mr Kelly told the audience that support for police was part of "getting the Brits out of Ireland".

"This is about victory over defeat. The British have long since accepted they will never defeat republicans, while we now know we will never push the British into the sea," he said.

"We have got to break the unionist grip on this last bastion of unionist control - to lose the grip at this stage would be the worst possible mistake. They've nowhere else to go. The question is not if but it's a matter of when. If society needs policing then we have to decide how to get there."

Belfast Telegraph