Policing Partnership Meeting Abandoned

Sinn Fein's vote last January to back the PSNI and to nominate party representatives for seats on the N I Policing Board and the associated District Policing Partnerships (DPPs) for the first time, has proved to be easier to agree than to action.

On foot of continuing death threats from republicans to Sinn Fein councillors in north Belfast and Newtownabbey who are to take a role in the policing bodies, a DPP meeting was forced out of Belfast's republican Markets area last night.

Those attending said that even young children were enlisted for the rowdy, intimidatory 'protest' at a meeting of the south-Belfast sub-committee of the city's district policing partnership.

DPP Chairman Pat McCarthy, of the SDLP, said about 20 republican protestors holding placards disrupted it.

He said there were children present ranging from 10 to 15 years old: "It was particularly targeted at myself and the two Sinn Fein councillors on the DPP," he said.

"I'd asked the council officers who service the DPP committee what they thought and they told me that it was the worst protest demonstration they had ever witnessed and they were a bit apprehensive.

"Because of it I decided to call the meeting off."

Mr McCarthy said that he was physically "jostled" before calling off the meeting.

The PSNI's area commander, Michele Larmour, said she was "deeply disappointed" by the events.

"Being part of the DPP gives us the opportunity to answer questions and to address issues raised by residents from the local area," she said.

"It is disappointing that we have been unable to do that this evening but we look forward to having the opportunity to do this again."

Policing Board chairman Des Rea said everyone has the right to peaceful protest "but the behaviour displayed at tonight's meeting was unacceptable".

Sinn Fein Policing Board member Alex Maskey was in the audience.

"Some of them (the protesters), would have been former Sinn Fein supporters, some would never have supported Sinn Fein," he said.

"This was as much a protest against us as a party engaging with policing as it was against the police."


'Dissidents' Threaten Both Police And SF


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