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Another first for Ulster... Sinn Fein on the policing board

By Deborah McAleese

Published 01/06/2007

Sinn Fein finally joined Northern Ireland's Policing Board for the first time yesterday as the 19 new members gathered in private at their Belfast headquarters to elect a chair and vice-chair.

Sir Desmond Rea, who has been chairman of the Policing Board ever since it was established in November 2001, was re-elected unopposed as chairman.

He said afterwards: "It is a very significant day because for the first time we have an inclusive board. That sends a very important message to the wider community.

"Our role as a board is simply to hold the PSNI to account through the Chief Constable for the delivery of effective and impartial policing."

Belfast-based property developer Barry Gilligan - who last month joined Sir Desmond in a first meeting with Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams following his party's decision to get involved in policing structures - also retained his seat as vice-chair. Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey, who is one of three Sinn Fein members to join the Board, said that yesterday was a significant step forward in ensuring the delivery of a "fully accountable and acceptable police service".

Mr Maskey is joined on the board by his party colleagues Daithi McKay (left), a North Antrim MLA, and Martina Anderson, a former IRA prisoner.

Belfast Telegraph

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