Alliance Party Leader, David Ford stated:
“If the suspended institutions of the Agreement are to be restored in the near future, it is critical that they are placed on a durable and sustainable basis.
“One of the key elements to this is ensuring that all parties which are potentially in government are fully in support of policing structures and the rule of law.
“Much of this has been distilled into the simplistic demand for Sinn Fein to ‘sign up to policing’. However, what this entails has yet to properly spelt out by the British and Irish governments.
“Alliance has developed five benchmarks that can be used to assess the commitment of any party to policing structures and the rule of law.
“There must be a wider commitment from parties than merely being prepared to take seats on the Policing Board. Rather it must to the nature of the engagement with the police service, and a recognition of its exclusive legitimacy. Furthermore, all parties must be prepared to engage with the forces of law and order to address any criminality within any organisations with which they are associated.
“While most attention may fall on the nature of Sinn Fein’s commitment to policing and the rule of law, these benchmarks should apply to all political parties. Notably, given the UUP’s relationship with the UVF-linked PUP, there are also particular issues where the Ulster Unionist Party needs to give assurance to the wider community.
“Over the coming weeks, it is important that both the British and Irish government spell out what is required in respect of parties giving a commitment to policing and the rule of law.
“Alliance looks forward to all parties supporting the rule of law and engaging constructively with the PSNI, the only legitimate policing agency.”
The Alliance Benchmarks on Policing and the Rule of Law
Ø Are the representatives of parties engaging with the Police Service of Northern Ireland in a regular, consistent and constructive manner, both locally and centrally?
Ø Are political parties prepared to recognise the Police Service of Northern Ireland as the sole and exclusive legitimate policing agency within Northern Ireland? (This does not imply agreement with every operational decision, but rather a recognition of the right of the PSNI to make them.)
Ø Are parties prepared to take the seats that they are entitled to on the NI Policing Board, and on the District Policing Partnerships?
Ø Are Ministers prepared to take a revised Pledge of Office containing a specific commitment to upholding the rule of law in a fair and consistent manner?
Ø Are parties prepared to co-operate with the lawful authorities to address so-called ‘individual acts of criminality’ arising from any paramilitary organisation with which they may be associated?