So finally, after great drama and much wooing of the rank-and-file of the party by its leadership, Sinn Féin has finally bitten the bullet (no pun intended) and apparently agreed to engage in the Patten structures and support policing. Of course, this was done purely for political purposes as Adams and McGuinness realised that they were badly lagging behind the progressive position of nationalist Ireland. It must be realised that joining the Policing Board and District Policing Partnerships does not mean congratulating the police at every opportunity regardless of their performance- we'll leave that blinkered fawning for unionist politicians looking back through rose, white and blue tinted spectacles at their beloved but deceased RUC- but rather it means supporting the elements of policing that work, and forcing changes to policing where it is needed. This can be done better with both the SDLP and Sinn Féin on board. Sinn Féin makes a lot of the fact that the Policing Board approved the purchase of more plastic bullets, but the public see through the smoke and mirrors and know that this would have been a lot less likely if Sinn Féin has signed up earlier and supported the SDLP in blocking the move.
He said: "Sinn Féin's decision vindicates the SDLP. As with so much else in the peace process, Sinn Féin is coming late to the SDLP position. They now need to sign with no ifs or buts. As Gerry Adams now accepts, nationalist areas need policing. That’s why it makes no sense to wait until the DUP accepts the devolution of justice.
"Equally, if Sinn Féin is serious about devolution, waiting until the governments announce Plan B makes no sense.
"The safety of nationalists is best delivered and the chances of restoration are best secured by accepting policing now and without any further delay.
"Any other strategy would leave Ian Paisley deciding when nationalist areas are to be policed. It would also make it easy for the DUP to walk away and refuse to share power."