The Catholic bishops in Northern Ireland have expressed support for a revised plan for implementing police reform in the province. The pro-Agreement parties are due to respond today to the plan which outline changes to be made to the Royal Ulster Constabulary as it becomes the Police Service of Northern Ireland. In a statement yesterday, the bishops said they shared some of the reservations expressed by different groups, but believed there were sufficient grounds to give "real hope for a new beginning in policing". They said: "We believe the time is now right for all those who sincerely want a police service that is fair, impartial and representative to grasp the opportunity that is presented and to exercise their influence to achieve such a service. The bishops welcomed the emphasis on human rights and insisted young Catholics must feel "totally free to choose" whether or not to participate in the new service. In an interview with Radio Ulster, the Bishop of Clogher Dr Joseph Duffy, said the bishops had intervened because they believed the overall proposals represent progress. He said: "We do feel that, particularly in view of the urgency of this matter, that it's dragging on a bit. We feel that the time has come to get on with it." The emphasis on human rights in the new plan was "welcome", the bishop said, adding:"It's a sign of the intent of everybody to make this thing work and to make the police force attractive to all members of the community."
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