JACKI LYDEN, host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden. In a historic decision, members of Sinn Fein voted earlier today to begin cooperating with Northern Ireland's police force. Sinn Fein is the political arm of the Irish Republican Army, which fought against British rule for decades.
Today, Sinn Fein's announcement comes just days after a report by Northern Ireland's police ombudsman accusing the police force of collusion with Protestant loyalist gangs. Jerry Moriarty has been following this issue for the Irish Times, and he joins us now from just outside a Sinn Fein meeting in Dublin. Hello, Jerry Moriarty.
Mr. JERRY MORIARTY (Irish Times): Hello, Jacki.
LYDEN: Why did Sinn Fein take this step now?
Mr. MORIARTY: It's interesting. The ombudsman's report covers a period from the early 1990s to the early start of this century, and it focused on a loyalist paramilitary gang operating in North Belfast, some of whom were informers for the Royal Ulster Constabulary. And it was quite an explosive report, caused a lot of surprise and distress in Northern Ireland last week, and people had concerns that this could damage the Sinn Fein leadership's chance of getting the motion to support the police through.
But what the leadership did was to try and turn the issue around and argue that it was only by Sinn Fein being in policing that they could prevent and ensure that there wasn't any further collusion.
LYDEN: Does this bring a resumption of the power-sharing agreement in the government which had been provided for going back to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement but which had been suspended since 2002?
Mr. MORIARTY: That's a good question. It's really over to the Democratic Unionist Party leader, Ian Paisley, to decide whether he will now share power with Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, and we don't know whether he will yet. His initial response tonight was, well, we have to see this tested on the ground. We have to see proof on the ground that Sinn Fein is genuinely supporting the police. And I don't expect that Dr. Paisley will give an answer, a definitive answer, before March 7th, because on March 7th we're going to have assembly elections to elect a new, hopefully, power-sharing government.
LYDEN: Ian Paisley, we should say, is the Protestant Loyalist leader. What does this agreement today mean for the future of Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein?
Mr. MORIARTY: Well, months ago, nobody would have predicted that Sinn Fein would sign up to policing, and tonight his motion was carried by between 90 and 95 percent of the delegates here, and himself and Martin McGuinness went out on the stump over the past three or four weeks, and Martin McGuinness is his number two, and they were involved in over 100 public and private meetings, meeting Republican supporters, meeting IRA members and arguing the reason why this motion should be.
And the fact that he was so successful and carried it so well I think just shows how effective his leadership is.
LYDEN: Jerry Moriarty is a Northern Ireland editor for the Irish Times. Thanks very much for joining us.
Mr. MORIARTY: You're very welcome. Thank you.
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