02/02/2006

Policing Board meeting disrupted by protestors

Republican protestors briefly disrupted the public meeting between PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde and the Policing Board this afternoon.

The Chief Constable was just about to deliver his assessment on the IMC report on IRA activity when around six people stood up and demanded to know where the information had come from. Other protesters held placards above their heads, which in turn provoked a furious response from the DUP.

The protesters were escorted out of the public meeting and some of the group shouted, "political policing" as they left.

Ulster Unionist representative Sam Foster was outraged at the disruption and demanded to know how they managed to gain access to the meeting, and asked if they were aware that it was going to happen.

Policing Board Chairman Sir Desmond Rea insisted he had no prior knowledge of the protest. He said: "I wasn't aware the meeting was going to be disrupted."

Replying to questions about the findings of the IMC report on IRA activity, the Chief Constable said he had no intelligence indicating that the IRA was returning to an armed struggle. Sir Hugh declined to comment on the IMC report indicating that the IRA still had some weapons, other than to say both the IMC and Independent International Commission on Decommissioning had been briefed in an "honest, frank and open way."

The IMC report, which was released yesterday, revealed there is reason to believe that the IRA still possesses some of its weaponry, and remains active in intelligence gathering.

However, in a statement the IRA has denied this.

The IMC report, stated that the IRA were "moving in the right direction," however Unionist politicians were not convinced, and today's events, may have hindered the political process even further.

(EF/SP)

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