December 30th, 2006 12:54 EST
U.S. Applauds Sinn Fein's Support for Police in Northern Ireland
Washington – The United States welcomed the announcement by the leadership of Sinn Fein that it would seek the party's support for police and law enforcement in Northern Ireland. In a press release on December 29 the U.S. State Department calls the announcement an "important step" toward the power sharing arrangements that can lead to the restoration of Northern Ireland's government.
Sinn Fein – the political arm of the Irish Republican Party – has renounced violence in its campaign to win independence from Britain but has rebuffed the reformed Northern Irish police force, calling it repressive and pro-Protestant. Protestant leaders have said they would refuse to share power with Sinn Fein until it accepts law and order arrangements in the province.
On December 29, members of Sinn Fein's executive body voted to back a motion put forward by party leader Gerry Adams to hold a special conference on whether to endorse the Northern Irish police force.
The statement issued by the State Department expresses hope that Sinn Fein's announcement will be matched by a commitment from all parties to reach the goals set forth in the St. Andrews Agreement, a series of steps outlined in late June by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern that are intended to end years of political deadlock and restore Northern Ireland’s government. (See related article.)
"We fully support the British and Irish governments' unflagging efforts to achieve a lasting political settlement in Northern Ireland," says the State Department statement.
The text of the statement can be found on the State Department Web site.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)