Belfast Telegraph

Ex-mayor 'played Solitaire on iPad at key Policing Board meeting'

By Chris Kilpatrick

The Policing Board is to discuss claims that one of its members was caught on camera playing Solitaire during an important meeting with senior PSNI officers.

Gearoid O hEara allegedly played the game on his board-issued iPad as watchdog members quizzed officers including Chief Constable George Hamilton.

During the course of the one-hour meeting, those present discussed a number of vital issues including multi-million pound policing cuts and a surge of race hate attacks.

At one point during the exchanges, Mr O hEara — a former Sinn Fein mayor of Londonderry — was filmed playing the card game on his iPad for at least six minutes, according to sources.

The board had been testing a live feed of the monthly meetings, and a camera behind Mr O hEara reportedly captured his activity.

After being made aware of the alleged incident, sources said Mr O hEara was spoken to by senior board members and the panel reminded of the policy of use for computer equipment.

The Belfast Telegraph attempted to contact Mr O hEara but was unable to do so.

A spokeswoman for the Policing Board said: “The board’s chair has been informed of an issue regarding a member, and the matter will be discussed.

“All members are issued with iPads to assist with their work and to access papers.”

Footage of the meeting said to show him playing the card game was uploaded to YouTube, before being deleted a short time later. Yesterday, a Policing Board member criticised Mr O’ hEara and claimed that his alleged behaviour could be seen as disrespectful towards the Policing Board, as well as PSNI officers. “Everybody knows about it,” a member of the panel told this newspaper.

“He was playing for more than six minutes and it was caught on camera.

“He was pulled over it, and when asked by somebody, he said he had already heard what was being talked about.

“Others (board members) were then reminded about the use of electronic devices.”

The incident allegedly happened at a public meeting earlier this month.

Mr O hEara, an Irish language activist, is an independent member of the Policing Board.

Independent members of the body are paid an allowance of around £19,400 per year, plus expenses.


Gearoid O hEara is a former Sinn Fein mayor of Derry. He sits as an independent member of the Policing Board and was previously a vice-chair of the watchdog. Mr O hEara is a leading Irish language activist and is the current chief executive of Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin, an award-winning Irish language project based in the city. He also served on Derry City Council from 1989 until 2005, his last year of term as mayor. He was previously on the boards of the Derry Port and Harbour Commission, Western Education and Library Board and the Arts Council.

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