Historic first as Sinn Féin councillor takes on Chair of East Belfast District Policing Partnership
Sinn Fein Councillor and East Belfast DPP member Gerard O'Neill last night formally took up position as the chairperson of the sub-group, chairing his first East Belfast DPP meeting, an appointment which has been warmly welcomed by East Belfast Sinn Féin representative Niall Ó Donnghaile.
Speaking in advance of the meeting Cllr. O'Neill said,
"As a Sinn Féin elected representative, I believe that policing with the community needs to be the core function of any civic policing service, and my aim as Chair of the East Belfast District Policing Partnership is to see that happen.
"As Chair of the DPP I am determined to use this opportunity to bring about an impartial and effective, civic policing service which meets the needs of the whole community in which it serves.
"I want to see increased co-ordination and the development of a multi-agency approach working closely with the local community to address these problems once and for all. Community police should be utilised where intended and not re-deployed to other duties. More intensive community policing with increased patrols are required to target street drinkers, vandalism and drug dealers.
"There is also much work to be done on demiltarising the PSNI; nowhere is the need for this more evident than in the Short Strand area where excessive amounts of money are continuing to be wasted on maintaining Mountpottinger Barracks, and outdated reminder of all that Policing should not be.
"The PSNI are overstaffed as statistics prove. There are more police per head of population in the North than in any policing region within Britain or Ireland. If shift patterns were reviewed and bureaucracy curtailed, then personnel could be used to better effect - policing the community to whom they are responsible.
"I will be calling for the PSNI to engage with other agencies including the NIHE, Community Associations, Residents Groups and Community Safety Partnerships, to map out a workable action plan that will see all such agencies liaising closely to ensure the best possible results."
Congratulating Gerard on his appointment East Belfast Sinn Féin Representative Niall Ó Donnghaile said,
"I want to congratulate Gerard on his appointment and commend him for the work he has already carried out as a board member; I have liaised with him throughout his term and look forward to doing so during his time as chair. Gerard will be a voice for everyone in East Belfast and I have no doubt he will work to make sure that citizens throughout the East of the city have a very loud, clear and representative voice in holding the PSNI to account.
"Go néirí leat Gerard."