01/03/2006

Hain calls for Policing Board nominations

The Secretary of State, Peter Hain, has written to the four main political parties in Northern Ireland, asking for their nominations for members of the policing board.

The Secretary of State said: “The Policing Board is a key element in the accountability architecture for Policing. As I said last November when I launched the competition for the Independent members Government is seeking to continue to build on the Policing Board’s admirable and considerable work to date.

"I have today written to the leaders of the DUP, SDLP, UUP and Sinn Fein seeking their nominations for Policing Board members.”

On November 15 2005, Peter Hain announced the competition for the appointment of independent members to the Policing Board. The process to find the new members is currently underway and is intended to be in place by April 1.

The DUP have been asked to nominate four people, which will increase their current number on the Board by one. The SDLP and the UUP have been asked to put forward two names, which will see a reduction to their teams. Sinn Fein has also been offered two positions, however the party has already chosen to decline as they refuse to support the PSNI, the Policing Board and other institutions saying that more power must be given to local politicians before it can contemplate signing up.

The DUP has claimed that the Secretary of State's plans could destroy the Policing Board due to focus being put upon nationalist and republican demands.

DUP representative Ian Paisley Junior has called on the Secretary of State to ensure that his actions do not destabilise the situation by his need to appease nationalists and republicans.

He said: "If he were to pack the board with republican sympathisers in an effort to appease Sinn Fein that would be a critical error that would destabilise a stable institution.

"The Policing Board is a key element in the accountability architecture for policing."

However, SDLP Policing Board member Alex Attwood has stated that the policing board must be representative of Northern Ireland's Society and should not be used as a short-term solution for political gain.

(EF/SP)

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