Irish Republican News · March 13, 2006
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Hain announces new Policing Board
Hain announces new Policing Board

British Direct Ruler Peter Hain has announced the new make-up of the North’s Policing Board, which includes a majority of Independent members.

The controversial body was set up to oversee the police and the actions of chief constable Hugh Orde. However, it has been strongly criticised by republicans for its failure to tackle a legacy of sectarianism and political policing. Sinn Féin’s seats on the board have been allocated to independents while the party continues to boycott policing arrangements ahead of genuine policing reform.

Dawn Purvis, who has links to the unionist paramilitary UVF through his chairmanship of the Progressive Unionist Party, has been selected to serve on the 19 member body.

Ms Purvis, 39, insisted her party’s UVF links would not create a difficulty in her new role.

She said: “People are going to say I have a conflict of interests. But tell me how I have.

“The principles and practices of my party are not alien to the principles of the Policing Board, and an effective and efficient police service.”

Moderate unionist and former Irish rugby international Trevor Ringland has also been appointed to the board, as well as moderate nationalist Derry businessman, Brendan Duddy.

Lay magistrate Brian Rea, vice chairman of the Prison Service Trust, and Deirdre MacBride, a consultancy director specialising in conflict and interface issues, have also been given seats.

Mr Hain claimed the Policing Board had been “one of the success stories” of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

“By holding the Chief Constable and police service to account, it has played a crucial role ensuring that the PSNI is effective, efficient and responsive to the needs of the community.

“I would like to pay tribute to the outgoing Board and its members for the considerable contribution they have made to policing in Northern Ireland and their personal commitment to its work.

“This newly reconstituted Board will undoubtedly build on the good work of its predecessor.”

Along with the independent appointments, eight political representatives have been nominated by their parties.

The Democratic Unionists have put forward Arlene Foster and Peter Weir as new representatives -- both members of the mothballed Belfast Assembly. The party has succeeded in gaining four seats on the board, despite apparently losing the right to a fourth seat following the resignation from the party of one of its Assembly members.

The Ulster Unionists two members are Fred Cobain and Danny Kennedy. However, the party is to hold discussions on whether to take its two seats. The UUP is unhappy that appointed members of the board now outnumber elected representatives.

The nationalist SDLP has also selected two of its Belfast Assembly team: Alex Attwood and Dolores Kelly.

Even though the SDLP’s Joe Byrne was not nominated by his party, he has returned as an “independent” member.

The 19 members to the new Board are: Alex Attwood MLA (SDLP); Joe Byrne (Independent); Fred Cobain (UUP); Brendan Duddy (Independent); Arlene Foster (DUP); Barry Gilligan (Independent); William Hay (DUP); Dolores Kelly (SDLP); Danny Kennedy (UUP); Pauline McCabe (Independent); Deirdre MacBride (Independent); Rosaleen Moore (Independent); Ian Paisley Jr (DUP); Dawn Purvis (Independent); Brian Rea (Independent); Professor Sir Desmond Rea (Independent); Trevor Ringland (Independent); Suneil Sharma (Independent); Peter Weir MLA (DUP).

PSNI SEEK TASERS

Nationalist politicians and human rights campaigners have criticised the PSNI’s plans to add electric Tasers to their weaponry.

On Wednesday Hugh Orde informed the Policing Board that he was planning to purchase 12 X-26 Tasers for the force. The Policing Board is to hold a two week consultation period to get the public’s views on the new weapon.

Paul O’Connor from the Derry based human rights organisation, the Pat Finucane Centre said that Amnesty International have said that Tasers have resulted in the deaths of 150 people world-wide.

Sinn Féin local government spokesperson on policing, Councillor Paul Fleming, said that the PSNI could not be trusted to use such a weapon responsibly.

“Tasers have been proven to have killed over 200 people across the globe and putting them in the hands of an unaccountable PSNI will only create the same problems that have arisen out of the PSNI being armed with CS spray and plastic bullets. The PSNI have enough lethal force weapons without arming them with another, Although Tasers were designed for non-lethal force they have proven to be lethal in over 200 cases, just like plastic bullets,” he said.

© 2006 Irish Republican News