I see that the Ard Chomhairle will meet this afternoon to get briefed on the Governments proposals from St Andrews. The Ard Chomhairle will also decide on the consultation which will take place in the party during the coming weeks.
I have yet to fully make up my mind on the deal but I am leaning towards rejecting it as the reforms of the RUC/PSNI do not seem to have went far enough.
There are not too many other Republican blogs in Bloglaigh Na hÉireann but Wednesday seems to be leaning the same way as well.
I was reassured though by the words of Gerry Kelly, our Policing and Justice spokesperson, on Spotlight when he said that
"We wanted to get to the point where we could put a proposition to an Ard Comhairle - we have not reached that.”
That would suggest that the party is aware that the strand of the deal that affects policing has not went far enough in order for Republicans to support the RUC/PSNI.
Republicans are not against law and order, far from it. We realise that policing is too important an issue to get wrong. The SDLP accepted less and we all saw what happenned to them. The Nationalist and Republican people of the six counties have entrusted Sinn Féin to work in their best interests. With that mandate comes a responsibility, a responsibility to make sure that any new start to policing must be acceptable to all.
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin put it best when he said
"Again let me be very clear about Sinn Féin’s position on policing. Sinn Féin is for proper civic, democratic and accountable policing. What we are against is bad policing and bad law and order. What we are against is political policing, counter-insurgency policing, policing as a weapon of war, which has been the norm in the Six Counties for generations. Sinn Féin is about changing all of this and we have made huge progress in recent years. The issue before is whether policing in the Six Counties has reached a stage where it can enjoy the support of all the community. Our job is to resolve all of the outstanding matters and to create a proper policing service. It will be the PSNI’s job to prove themselves to the community. But we want to see rapid progress made on this issue. We believe such progress is possible. When this happens, and in the right context, Uachtarán Shinn Féin Gerry Adams will go to the party’s Ard Chomhairle to ask them to call a special Ard Fheis on the matter"
The bit of his speech that is most important though was his last line
"It will then be the membership of Sinn Féin that will decide our position."
I have been saying this for almost 2 years, that it will be the grassroots who will decide our position. This is why I don't think the leadership will go to the membership with these current proposals because from the members that I have being speaking to they will not get the desired response.
Now is not a time to accept less than what is required!
UPDATE: The Ard Chomhairle have met and set up a group to assess the feeling from Republicans on the ground. Mary Lou McDonald, Martin Ferris and Conor Murphy are amongst this group.
I am encouraged by the words of Gerry Adams
"There was a consensus at the meeting that work needed to continue to resolve outstanding issues which continue to block progress towards creating a policing service which is democratically accountable and free from the sort of political control which has blighted policing in the north for generations. We remain determined to reach that point and discussions with the governments will continue in the weeks ahead."