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Church backs Northern Ireland police reforms

Ireland's Northern Catholic Bishops issued a statement on Sunday urging support for the updated version of the Implementation plan for Policing in Northern Ireland.

Parties have been given until today to respond to the plan which details changes to be made to the Royal Ulster Constabulary as it is transformed into the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

The bishops' support for the reform blueprint significantly increases the likelihood that they will be implemented.

In a statement, the Northern bishops said that while they share some reservations expressed by others, sufficient grounds now exist to give real hope for a new beginning in policing.

They insist in the statement: "The creation of a Police Service that is professional, effective and efficient, fair and impartial and free from partisan political control is an essential part of the common good and a just demand in any society."

The bishops praised the policing plan's emphasis on human rights, but emphasised that "young Catholics must feel totally free to choose whether or not to participate in the new Policing Service".

Statement by the Northern Catholic Bishops on the publication of the updated Implementation Plan for Policing in Northern Ireland 19/8/01
Summary of Policing Plan (BBC)