Nationalists have criticised the re-election of Desmond Rea as chairman of the North’s Policing Board.
Rea, who has a unioinist background, has chaired the board which is supposed to hold the PSNI police to account since its inception.
Sinn Féin said the election of Rea for a second term illustrated unionists’ unwillingness to consider genuine power-sharing while the SDLP said it was “a missed opportunity”. Sinn Féin still refuses to take their seats on the board because of the failure to implement substantial policing reform.
Barry Gilligan, a prominent businessman and member of the outgoing board, was elected vice-chairman unopposed. Mr Gilligan replaces Denis Bradley who did not put his name forward when the board was reconstituted last month.
Mr Bradley, a nationalist, had become a target for republican hardliners over his involvement in the board. His suggestion last week that the next chairman should be from a nationalist background was rejected by unionists.
The SDLP said last night that both Sir Desmond and Mr Gilligan should be congratulated.
However, board member Alex Attwood said: “It is of regret that Pauline McCabe was not elected chair. It was time for a new chair, and particularly a person with new ideas, who was strong on Patten [ report], and with a different background than the past chair. For a lot of reasons, change would have been good. There has been a missed opportunity.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Policing Gerry Kelly today said that the election of Des Rea for another term demonstrated to nationalists once again that many within political unionism have failed to grasp the concept of power sharing.
“Aside from our well documented objections to the current policing structures today’s election of Des Rea for another term as Policing Board Chair sends a very clear political message to nationalists,” said Mr Kelly.
“On a variety of local councils and other bodies, unionists when they find themselves in a majority, fail time and again to share power.
“Today those UUP and DUP members of the Policing Board sent out a very clear message at this delicate time in the peace process that they seem incapable of embracing concepts of equality, respect and power sharing.”