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Policing Board defies dissidents by meeting at site of RIRA explosion

Defiant Policing Board members have staged a meeting on the Londonderry site where a massive Real IRA bomb exploded earlier this week.

Cross-party members of the Human Rights and Professional Standards Committee presented a united front at Da Vinci's Hotel yesterday.

The planned three-hour meeting to discuss the policing of domestic violence went ahead despite concerns over security, with Assembly Members in attendance vowing that the dissidents would not disrupt progress.

Earlier this week it was suggested that the meeting may have been one of the intended targets of the Real IRA’s 200lbs bomb outside the Ulster Bank premises next to the hotel on Culmore Road.

Following the bombing on Tuesday morning, the entire area surrounding the site was cordoned off for the best part of two days before finally being reopened on Wednesday night.

Security was visibly low key yesterday as the board members and representatives from local community groups dealing with domestic abuse arrived, with no marked police vehicles in the area.

Chairman of the Committee Lagan Valley MLA Basil McCrea, said: “We obviously had a pre-arranged meeting and it is part of the whole policing board’s programme of activity to get out more and it is particularly important that we prove we are doing that and that we carry on proving that.

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“Last week I had a group of Congressmen here talking about how they could re-energise the economy and bring jobs here. They were heading up to the north west and this is the message they got.”

Foyle MLA Martina Anderson said it was “business as usual” yesterday.

“We are holding a meeting on a very important, crucial issue — the matter of domestic violence.

“The people of Derry and the north want an effective and efficient frontline service from the PSNI.

“The actions of those individuals the other day will not deter us from ensuring that the PSNI are answerable.”

Speaking as he arrived for the meeting, DUP MLA for Strangford Jonathan Bell said he was in Brussels with the committee for the region when the Derry bombing flashed up on screen.

Mr Bell said: “We were there in the heart of Europe arguing and fighting for jobs and growth... when these pictures were broadcast behind us. I phoned the Policing Board and said we should meet here — and I would have met in a tent here.”

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