Cill Dara Shinn Féin Poblachtach

Catholics who join devolved PSNI 'in line of fire'

Clarification: Des Dalton at no point in the interview mentioned or used the word Catholic.

Police Service of Northern Ireland there to 'uphold British rule', despite devolution of control, say dissident republicans

* Henry McDonald, Ireland editor
*, Sunday 7 February 2010 00.06 GMT

Young Catholic recruits to the Police Service of Northern Ireland are "putting themselves in the line of fire," Republican Sinn Fein has warned.

Des Dalton, the recently elected president of the anti-peace-process organisation, told the Observer yesterday that the devolution of policing and justice powers to the Stormont Assembly would make no difference to groups such as the CIRA, Real IRA and Oglaigh na hEireann in their campaigns of violence.

Dalton said the devolution of policing "had only re-arranged the furniture"; the house remained in Britain.

"The Royal Irish Constabulary became the Royal Ulster Constabulary and they ultimately became the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the PSNI. But while the cap badge might change, the essential point of these forces remain the same. They are there to uphold British rule, they are integral part of the British state forces," Dalton said. "So it is worth remembering all the recent reports of Catholic PSNI officers being unable to live in the communities they came from.

"Our message to young nationalists is that your place is not there in the PSNI. The logic of the situation remains the same – if you join a force that upholds British rule then you are putting yourself in the line of fire."

Last month the Real IRA set off a booby-trap bomb underneath the car of PSNI Constable Peadar Heffron. The prominent Irish-speaking policeman who was captain of the PSNI's gaelic football team, lost a leg in the blast and suffered serious internal injuries. Constable Heffron is the cousin of Sinn Fein's national chairman, Declan Kearney.

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