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Last Updated: Friday, 7 April 2006, 08:21 GMT 09:21 UK
Police 'need community support'
The Policing Board holds the PSNI to account
The Policing Board holds the PSNI to account
The new vice-chairman of the Policing Board has said the "sooner Sinn Fein is involved the better".

Prominent businessman Barry Gilligan, who replaced Denis Bradley on the board, said the key to effective policing was community involvement.

"The sooner Sinn Fein are involved the better but that's a matter for Sinn Fein and for the government," he said.

Members of the newly-elected board are to meet Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde on Friday.

Speaking ahead of that meeting, Mr Gilligan told the BBC: "I have been absolutely consistent in saying that the key to effective and efficient policing in any community is that everyone is involved in it."

He said the Policing Board was hailed as one of the success stories of the Good Friday Agreement.

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

Sinn Fein has resisted giving the PSNI, the Policing Board and other institutions its support, insisting more legislation is needed before it can sign up.

The party said it needed to see more power transferred to local politicians before it would consider nominating representatives.

Members will 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.

On Thursday, Sir Desmond Rea was re-elected as chairman, beating off a challenge from Pauline McCabe, a training and business consultant, for the top post.

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

"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."

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

In his outgoing speech last month, deputy chairman 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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