'No PSNI Reserve Contradiction': DUP

A senior DUP figure has reiterated the necessity of retaining full time police reservists in the North, despite his party leader insisting the matter is not a precondition for devolved policing and justice.

Jeffrey Donaldson said there is "no contradiction" in what he and DUP leader Peter Robinson are saying.

Speaking at PSNI headquarters yesterday, Mr Robinson said holding on to the police reserve was not linked to the transfer of judiciary powers, maintaining that public confidence was still the main issue.

Lagan Valley MP, Mr Donaldson earlier hinted it was unlikely his party would commit to devolution unless the future of the reservists is secured.

He said losing the officers would damage public confidence in local policing.

"I would not have the confidence that there would be sufficient resource within the PSNI to deal with the terrorist threat," he said.

Mr Donaldson suggested the loss of experienced police officers would be felt most in border areas, where dissident republican activity has been high.

He said the removal of 100 officers in Lurgan was not acceptable, suggesting these personnel would be replace by only 10 others, producing a net loss of 90 police.

"Now this is in a area where tragically police constable Stephen Carroll was murdered, an area where a seven-man IRA dissident gang was out doing check-points in south Armagh."

The dissolution of reserve officers was part of the Patton report, and forms wider plans to 'normalise' policing in Northern Ireland.

Last week, PSNI Chief Constable said he would push ahead with the disbandment of the auxiliary force by 2011.

He said there was no operational need for the support officers, suggesting more police would be moved to front line service.

The Police Federation, which represents all UK personnel, has criticised the decision.


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