Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein nominate representatives to policing board with meetings to resume next month

By Gareth Cross

Sinn Fein have nominated three representatives to the Northern Ireland Policing Board with meetings set to resume next month.

The party have nominated policing spokesperson Gerry Kelly to the board alongside MLAs Linda Dillon and Phillip McGuigan.

 

Mr Kelly served on the policing board in its previous form.

Northern Ireland's Policing Board works to scrutinise the work of the PSNI and engage with the public on policing issues.

The board is made up of ten political members who must be MLAs and nine independent members who are appointed.

It has not met since the collapse of Stormont in January 2017 which took away the board's legal authority to carry out its work.

The Policing Board will resume meeting after a new bill from Secretary of State Karen Bradley was approved in the House of Commons.

The Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Bill gives Northern Ireland's civil servants further decision-making powers in the absence of a power-sharing Executive at Stormont.

As part of the bill UK Government ministers will be able to make key public appointments in the absence of Stormont ministers.

This will apply to the Policing Board and the board’s appointment of senior police officers.

One of the job's of the new policing board will be appointing a successor for former PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris who left the force to become the Republic of Ireland's new garda comissioner.

Sinn Fein Vice President Michelle O'Neill said it was welcome news that the body has been restored.

“The Policing Board is a hugely important mechanism in terms of holding policing to account," the Mid Ulster MLA said.

“Our party’s support for the policing structures is based on transparency and accountability so we welcome the reconstitution of the Policing Board which is now expected to meet in December.

“Democratic oversight of policing is crucial, particularly in the current context where issues such as Brexit are likely to impact on policing arrangements."

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