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Bangor riots in board spotlight

By Chris Thornton

The Policing Board is set to question Sir Hugh Orde about the Bangor violence that helped put UDA peace funds under threat.

The chief constable is to be asked about the rioting and reported shooting at police blamed on the loyalist group.

After the August 1 violence occured, Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie said she would cut off the £1.2m fund for the UDA's political advisors unless they decommission by early October.

Board chairman Sir Desmond Rea was scheduled to ask Sir Hugh about the situation during the public meeting in Belfast.

The Board is also due to announce that as many 23 district policing partnerships will need to be reformed to take account of political changes, including Sinn Fein's acceptance of policing arrangements. Castlereagh council's DPP may be added to the list because of a councillor's recent decision to leave the DUP.

Charlie Tosh's resignation means the DUP would be entitled to claim his place on the DPP.

Parties should be entitled to positions on the DPPs relative to their strength in the local council. Currently it appears that the political line-ups of the DPPs in Ballymena, Banbridge and Coleraine are the only ones that reflect the current situations on their councils. That is largely because Sinn Fein members have not yet taken their places, but defections between the UUP and DUP are also a factor.

The first Sinn Fein members will take their places on DPPs next month, with a new batch of independent members joining by next March.

A change in the law will allow former IRA prisoners to join the DPPs for the first time.

During the meeting, Sir Hugh is also due to be questioned about the handover of national security arrangements to MI5.

MI5 is to take responsibility for anti-terrorism intelligence this year, but the exact date of the handover hasn't been specified. SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly said she wants to know how many former Special Branch officers are working for MI5 as a result of the changes.

"We're obviously opposed to this change and we are concerned at the lack of scrutiny arrangements," Ms Kelly said.

Belfast Telegraph


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