26 April 2007 Edition
Policing : SF names members for policing board
Holding the PSNI to account
Sinn Féin this week announced that it would nominate MLAs Alex Maskey, Martina Anderson and Daithí McKay to the Policing Board once the North’s political institutions go live on 8 May.
Speaking in Stormont on Monday Maskey said: “For many years a core Sinn Féin objective has been the creation of an accountable and representative policing service. It was Sinn Féin who brought the policing issue into the political negotiations which led to the Good Friday Agreement. It has been part of every set of political talks since.
“During the Patten consultation Sinn Féin argued for a strong Policing Board as a key accountability mechanism. In the years since we have ensured that the Board has the necessary power to do its job effectively.
“The political institutions will go live on May 8. A short time later the Policing Board will be reconstituted. Gerry Adams has already indicated that he will go to an Ard Chomhairle meeting in May and propose that we take the three places which we are entitled to. He will propose that Martina Anderson, Daithí McKay and myself take up the Sinn Féin positions on the Board.
“This is a key area of work for Sinn Féin. The Policing Board is charged with holding the PSNI to account. Our presence on the Board will be the guarantee that this happens.
“It is not the job of the Policing Board to rubber stamp PSNI policy and actions. The Sinn Féin members on the Policing Board will provide the voice for communities who have in the past experienced only bad policing. We want to play a constructive role on the Board but we will not shy away from challenging, or criticising, or questioning policing decisions and policy when the need arises.
“As we prepare to take our places on the Policing Board we have set ourselves a number of key objectives which we intend to deliver through our participation in this and other policing structures including the local DPPs.
• a civic policing service, accountable and representative of the community is delivered as quickly as possible;
• that the Chief Constable and the PSNI are publicly held to account;
• that policing with the community is achieved as the core function of the PSNI;
• that political policing, collusion and “the force within a force” is a thing of the past and to oppose any involvement by the British Security Service/MI5 in civic policing;
• that the issue of plastic bullets is properly addressed.
“Sinn Féin taking up positions on the Policing Board is clearly significant. There are big challenges for us in the coming period as we seek to deliver on the mandate we have been given. But as with our approach to any issue we will be resolute and we will be determined. The prize of a truly accountable and representative policing service which serves the entire community is I believe achievable and I believe that our contribution on the Policing Board will be key to achieving this goal.”
Profiles of the Sinn Féin Nominees :
Alex Maskey is from Andersonstown, West Belfast and is married to Liz with two children. Elected first republican Mayor of Belfast in 2002 he was widely acclaimed for his inclusive approach. He was the first Sinn Féin Councillor elected to Belfast City Council in 1983.
Despite years of physical and verbal abuse inside the council chamber from Unionists he helped make Sinn Féin the largest party in Belfast. He has overcome two attempts on his life by unionist paramilitaries.
He is a key party strategist and was a member of the Sinn Féin negotiating team. He was head of the West Belfast Partnership which is working for the economic development of the area and is currently a member of the South Belfast Partnership Board.
He is a Sinn Féin Councillor for Laganbank in South Belfast. He was elected as Assembly member for West Belfast in 1998 and during the last Assembly he served as the party’s Chief Whip. He served on several Assembly committees including the Finance and Personnel Committee and is a member of the party Ard Chomhairle. He has travelled extensively for the party at home and internationally to promote the Irish peace process. He was elected MLA for South Belfast in November 2003 and re-elected in the recent Assembly poll.
Martina Anderson is from the Bogside in Derry and has been involved with the Republican struggle for over 30 years, she spent over 13 years in prisons in England and Ireland. She was released under the Good Friday Agreement.
She was a member of Sinn Féin’s Assembly Business Committee. For almost three years she served as the party’s All Ireland Political Co-ordinator.
Following last years Ard Fheis, at which the Party President Gerry Adams indicated a priority of developing an entirely new relationship with unionism Martina was appointed to the role of Sinn Féin’s Director of Unionist Engagement.
Daithí McKay is currently the Head of the Sinn Féin Council Grouping on Ballymoney Council and was recently elected to the Assembly. Daithí is the youngest Sinn Féin Councillor in the north and youngest member of the Assembly at 25 years of age.
Daithí was born in Ballymena and raised in Rasharkin where he lives.
He has been involved in Aid work in the Palestinian West Bank as well as in Central America and has represented the party in both the Basque Country and Kurdistan where he spoke to audiences about the Irish Peace Process.