Concern over Patten venues
Sinn Fein Assembly member for Upper Bann, Dara O'Hagan, has
written to the Patten Commission on Policing expressing the
concern of North Armagh nationalists about two of the venues they
selected for public meetings on 4 December.
The venues, Lurgan Town Hall (1-3pm) and Craigavon Civic Centre
(7.30-9.30pm) are situated in Loyalist heartlands and are no-go
areas for nationalists.
Following this request the Patten Commission has agreed to a one
hour private meeting and a two hour public meeting at a venue on
the Garvaghy Road. But residents have expressed concern that this
will leave them with insufficient time.
In the last number of weeks, Lurgan taxi-drivers have been
threatened by Loyalists and Loyalists mobs have continued to put
Garvaghy Road residents under siege with nightly orchestrated
violence. Craigavon Civic Centre has been at the centre of a
controversy because of its use as a political platform for
Dara O'Hagan said that ``in order to have a frank and open
consultation where all who wish to contribute to the policing
debate feel safe'', the Commission would have to find extra venues
on alternative dates.
Armagh SF councillor Sean McGirr has also queried the venue to be
used for the 7 December hearing in Armagh. He said: ``The hall
being proposed, St Patricks, only holds 150. In order for the
debate on policing to be fully inclusive the Commission need
either additional meetings or to move the venue to the Parochial
Hall, which holds 1000.''