FBI training of RUC officers is suspended


The US House of Representatives has voted unanimously to cut off funding for US-sponsored training and exchange programmes with the Royal Ulster Constabulary, it emerged yesterday.

The suspension of training of RUC officers by the FBI was approved as part of the American Embassy Security Act, which provides $2.4 billion (£1.5 billion) for increased security at US embassies and promotes human rights, international broadcasting, education and cultural exchanges.

The move was proposed by Congressman Chris Smith, chairman of the sub-committee on International Operations and Human Rights.

He claimed that the RUC was linked to "the intimidation of defence attorneys" in Northern Ireland, and also called for "just and impartial investigations" into the murders of two leading solicitors, Ms Rosemary Nelson and Mr Pat Finucane.

"This bill puts our money where our mouth is by blocking US funds to RUC programmes and requiring the President and the State Department to closely monitor the harassment of defence attorneys in Northern Ireland," said Mr Smith.

He said the vote required the US Secretary of State to "take all appropriate steps" to ensure that members of the RUC were not participants in any programme with the FBI unless it was certified that an independent and transparent investigation into the Nelson and Finucane murders was initiated by the British government.

He also called it preposterous that the RUC should be involved in any capacity in the investigation into the murder of Ms Nelson in Lurgan, Co Armagh, last September.

"When these human rights issues are rightly addressed, the monetary assistance will resume," he said.

He pointed out that Ms Nelson had testified before his congressional sub-committee.

"She reported that she had been physically assaulted by a number of RUC officers and that the harassment included, at the most serious, making threats against her personal safety, including death threats."

In his statement Mr Smith said: "It is important that even while negotiations have been stalled and the future of the new Northern Ireland Assembly is in jeopardy, the British government can take some unilateral steps to restore confidence in the peace process."