MI5 removed from the policing equation

I was told at Christmas that this had been achieved and it seems that it has.

This was one of the main issues ( not the only one though) that had many Republicans like myself refusing to back any new policing agreement.

It is clear that MI5 and the PSNI will not be connected in any way and that can only be a good thing.

The SDLP claims that it removes MI5 out of local control and accountability, the SDLP are deluded if they believed that they or anyone else could control or hold MI5 to account.

The British government can't even control them for goodness sake!

What is clear is that if there is to be a new start to policing MI5 has no role to play within that policing structure.

There is no place for a "force within a force" !

Sinn Féin have been able to achieve what the SDLP didn't even try to do, namely

1. No secondment of PSNI members to MI5

2. No PSNI members will be under the control of MI5

3. MI5 will have no role in civic policing

4. All PSNI members accountable to the Policing Board and other Patten mechanisms and upon transfer to the Justice Ministers.

5. All party representation on the Policing Board special purposes committee

6. The Police Ombudsman will have statutory access to all information held by PSNI and statutory powers to hold PSNI members to account. Arrangements will be made that she will have access to information held by MI5 where this is necessary to the discharge of her duties.

7. Annual Review role in the north for Lord Carlisle in consultation with the First and deputy First Ministers and future Justice Ministers.

Sinn Féin Policing and Justice spokesperson Gerry Kelly MLA said

"Sinn Féin is determined to achieve a new beginning to policing. One of our key demands in these negotiations was to stop MI5 having any role in civic policing here. Today's proposals will go a long way towards achieving that objective and go far beyond the proposals agreed by the SDLP at St. Andrews."

Policing is no where near sorted, the Ard Chomhairle may have called a special Ard Fheis however the outcome of that Ard Fheis is not a fore gone conclusion.

Just from speaking to comrades in Cumann's across South Armagh this is going to be a hard decision for the leadership to sell.

We still have problems with the timetable for the transfer of Policing and Justice powers. We also have serious problems about who is actually going to be the Ministers.

There is no Republican going to settle for or have any confidence in some stoop like Alex Attwood as Minister for Policing.

Do we have enough change for Republicans to sign up to policing?

I honestly don't know at this stage, it could go either way.

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