Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein 'will support policing'

Sinn Fein assembly member Alex Maskey has said the party would not withdraw support for policing but would "continue to monitor and review our relationship with the PSNI".

Speaking after Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness suggested the party would "review" its support for policing following the arrest of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, Mr Maskey said the comments referred to a "small" number of people involved in policing.

"Martin McGuinness actually didn't say that we will withdraw support for policing, we will not withdraw support for policing of course, because we do support policing," said Mr Maskey.

"What we will continue to monitor and review is our relationship with the PSNI if indeed we have a situation which we believe is continuing at the moment, where we have a small element of people involved in policing who are politically motivated, who have a hostile attitude to our party, who have been taking very retrograde steps in relation to how they deal with policing."

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Police in any part of the world have to earn the respect of their local community. I can tell you that the community that I represent, the people that I represent are scathing in their anger at the moment about the PSNI."

Speaking last night, Martin McGuinness said: "Depending on what happens this scenario will either be resolved in a satisfactory way, in which case we will continue to press on, continue to support the reformers within policing who have made, I think, such a massive contribution to the change of the policing arrangements that we have enjoyed in the course of recent times or the situation will not work out in the way we believe that it should.

"If it doesn't, we will have to review that situation and we will have to review that situation in the context of continuing with our very positive and constructive role within what is a vitally important peace process."

Northern Ireland justice minister David Ford said: "I reject the suggestion that there is political policing in Northern Ireland."

He told Today: "I'm not quite sure about this allegation of the timing (of the arrest). Gerry Adams' solicitor said a few weeks ago that he was ready to meet the police.

"So he went by arrangement to meet the police at this time and now Sinn Fein representatives appear to be complaining about the timing of it.

Further Reading

Gerry Adams arrest: Police get another two days to question Sinn Fein president over Jean McConville's murder

Gerry Adams arrested: Senior republicans Evelyn Gilroy and Peter Rodgers refuse to give statements to PSNI over Sinn Fein leader 

Gerry Adams arrest: A windowless cell and a seatless toilet as SF chief checks in to Serious Crime Suite

Gerry Adams arrest: The day the rift at heart of Stormont grew deeper 

Jean McConville's daughter vows to name mum's IRA killers: 'I'm not afraid any more'

Gerry Adams arrest: Leadership lacking as we lurch into a new crisis

Nothing underhand in Gerry Adams arrest

"In any case it is normal practice if somebody is likely to be arrested in the course of an inquiry that they are arrested at the start of discussions.

"I don't know whether Gerry Adams thought he was going to turn up at Antrim's serious crime suite, have a wee chat for half an hour and then go off again, but clearly on the scale of the concerns expressed, of the information - which I entirely accept is not yet evidence - it was entirely appropriate that should be followed up in the normal way.

"Those decisions are for the police, supported yesterday by an independent judge in extending the time for that investigation to continue."

He added: "If politicians are taking their decisions on how they react to the police service based on who the police service are investigating, then that is a very dangerous position for politicians to be in."

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