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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 April 2006, 21:32 GMT 22:32 UK
Rea is re-elected board chairman
The Policing Board holds the PSNI to account
The Policing Board holds the PSNI to account
The newly constituted Northern Ireland Policing Board has re-elected Sir Desmond Rea as its chairman.

The vice-chairman will be the prominent businessman Barry Gilligan. He replaces Denis Bradley who stepped down a few weeks ago.

Members have been attending a two-day induction programme in Limavady. They are to appoint committees and their chairs and vice chairs on Friday.

The first public session of the new Policing Board will be held on 3 May.

Asked about claims that a nationalist should have been elected chairman, Sir Desmond Rea said he believed he had drawn support from both identities in the community.

I have sought over the past four years to interpret the mind of the board to the wider community
Sir Desmond Rea
Chairman Northern Ireland Policing Board

"I'm very gratified about that, simply because I have sought over the past four years to seek to interpret the mind of the board to the wider community."

He said it was important that every part of the community was policed, that recruits were drawn from every part of the community and that they could "go back and visit their parents" in safety.

Sir Desmond said Sinn Fein's refusal to take its places on the board was a matter for "wider politics".

However, he added: "The fact that Sinn Fein is not on the police board creates a vacuum that the dissidents can play their games in and its sends a very powerful signal to the whole of the community."

SDLP board member Alex Attwood said an opportunity had been missed through fellow member Pauline McCabe not being elected chair.

"It was time for a new chair, and particularly a person with new ideas who was strong on Patten, and with a different background than the past chair," he said.

"For a lot of reasons, change would have been good."

Last month, outgoing vice chairman Denis Bradley said the next chairman "should be a nationalist".

In his outgoing speech Mr Bradley said he looked forward to the day when the background of the board chairman would become a "non-issue".

He also expressed concerns about MI5 taking control of intelligence gathering, fearing it would become "a force within a force".

Mr Bradley also predicted that Sinn Fein would take its seats on the board in the autumn.

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