Former IRA prisoner Martina Anderson, who will be one of three Sinn Féin nominees to the newly-constituted Policing Board, has said she will be going in to hold the PSNI to account.
Sinn Féin has announced that the party’s membership of the North’s Policing Board will be led by policing spokesman Alex Maskey and also include North Antrim assembly member Daithi McKay and Foyle assembly member Martina Anderson.
At a press briefing this week, Ms Anderson said: “I will be going in there to evaluate the performance of the PSNI and I will be going in there to hold them to account.
“I am a republican, I am a proud republican. Like many thousands of people out there I have been in prison.
“At this moment in time I think it is important that we win the peace.”
Sinn Féin’s decision to nominate to the board comes three months after a special ard fheis backed a proposal to endorse policing in the North for the first time and participate in policing structures.
The party said its representatives will join the board in the event of power-sharing taking effect on May 8.
Mr Maskey, Belfast’s first Sinn Féin mayor, said: “What we want is a fair system.
“We want a system that is accountable and representative of the community.
“We will want to make sure that those who want to serve the community are given a fair opportunity to do that.
“So we will be fair. We will point out where things are going wrong and we will highlight where things are going well and we will build on what is going well. That will be our task.”
25-year-old Daithi McKay, the youngest member of the assembly, said a lot of young people in North Antrim still get harassed by the PSNI on a regular basis.
“So, it is quite important to point to people that when we are taking our places on the Policing Board it will be to hold the PSNI to account for their actions... whether that is in North Antrim, in Derry or in west Belfast.
“The important thing is we are not going in there to act as cheerleaders for the PSNI.
“We are there to hold them to account and to make policing as transparent as possible for the communities that we represent.”
Meanwhile, the chairperson of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, Francie Mackey, has revealed he was among those who were warned that their private details had been passed to the UVF this month, reportedly by a PSNI administrator. He said questions need to be asked regarding the ‘civic’ role of the PSNI.
Mr Mackay said that his details were included in the PSNI’s database as a republican to be detained and searched, and that he had been stopped twice in recent weeks. He pointed out that he is not a member of any illegal organisation and is not wanted for any crime. “Why then should these details be on any ‘civic policing’ database for loyalists to peruse?” he asked.
His comments came as British officials claimed Sinn Féin is no longer making a distinction between ‘civic’ and ‘political’ policing in the North of Ireland.
“It is abundantly clear that there is no distinction between civic policing and the machinations of the politically motivated British security services in Ireland,” said Mr Mackay.
“Republicans whose details have been accessed have had their civil liberties and their human rights violated by the same forces that purport to defend them”.