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Former education minister Caitriona Ruane will take a seat on the new-look Northern Ireland Policing Board

Former education minister Caitriona Ruane will take a seat on the new-look Northern Ireland Policing Board

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Former education minister Caitriona Ruane will take a seat on the new-look Northern Ireland Policing Board

A senior GAA official is among members who will take a seat on the new-look Northern Ireland Policing Board.

Ryan Feeney, head of community development, strategy and public affairs with the Ulster Council, is one of nine independents who will join 10 MLAs on the police's independent scrutiny body. Another is Brian Rowntree, chairman of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

They are among seven new independent members with only outgoing board acting chairman and vice chairman Brian Rea and Gearoid O H'Eara returning. Only one MLA - the DUP's Ian McCrea - was on the last board term.

He will be joined by party colleagues Jonathan Craig, Robin Newton and Adrian McQuillan, Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly, former education minister Caitriona Ruane and Pat Sheehan, Ulster Unionist Ross Hussey, Conall McDevitt of the SDLP and the Alliance Party's Trevor Lunn. Mr O H'Eara, who while not an elected representative is a member of Sinn Fein, is favourite to be appointed chairman when the board meets in private for the first time next month.

Deborah Watters, an assistant director of a Belfast-based community restorative justice programme, Northern Ireland Alternatives, is also joining the board as an independent.

Other new independents, who each get paid £19,437 a year, are Anne Connolly - a retired senior manager in Libraries Northern Ireland, Stuart MacDonnell - non-executive member of the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence which oversees health regulation bodies across the UK, Joan O'Hagan - also has a background in the health sector, most recently as director of Asthma UK NI and Michael Wardlow - freelance consultant and former chief executive officer of the NI Council for Integrated Education.

Justice Minister David Ford announced the make-up of the reconstituted board.

"The Northern Ireland Policing Board performs a crucial role in holding the chief constable and his officers to account, ensuring that the PSNI is effective, efficient and responsive to the needs of the community," he said.

"Effective policing has to be informed by the different voices across the entire community. The wide variety of background and experience represented by the political and independent members on this new board will ensure that all interests are taken into account."

Mr Ford added: "I would like to pay tribute to all the former members of the Policing Board for the significant contribution they have made to policing in Northern Ireland and their personal commitment to the board and its work. I have every confidence that the newly reconstituted board will continue to take this important work forward at a time of both challenge and opportunity for the PSNI and the board."

PA