Sinn Féin's All-Ireland conference on policing and justice took place yesterday and it has certainly led to some feverish speculation as to the possibilities of Sinn Féin's position with regards to the PSNI changing.
Personally my position has been clear for quite some time. I want to see effective policing for all communities in the north. What I don't want is a politically motivated police force which makes outlandish accusations without any evidence to back them up and which spies on the democratically elected representatives of nationalism and uses their position to pull down the democratically elected assembly.
I am not opposed to a 6 county police service in principle but neither would I dare to suggest to my comrades that Sinn Féin should be a part of any police service which remains unacountable and which continues to hide the role it played in the deaths of many of the citizens it was supposedly protecting.
Republicans have made many crucial decisions in the past decade and perhaps there is there one more crucial move to make. However, this is not a decision to be taken lightly. Republicans will not be bullied or cajoled, nor will we jump too soon a la the SDLP. The issue of collusion and the manner in which it continues to this day must be dealt with properly.
Gerry Kelly made an excellent key note speech to the conference yesterday and I would agree entirely with what he has to say, particularly on this point;
Our opposition to the present policing arrangements is not a matter of timing.
It is not merely a question of tactics. It is a matter of integrity,
entitlements and our inalienable rights. At the core of our position is the
establishment of a threshold which enables the creation of democratically
accountable representative civic policing and the consignment of political
policing to the dustbin of history along with the other failures of the past.
Policing is far too important an issue to get wrong. The SDLP did, I'm confident that Sinn Féin won't.