Row over DPP invite to dissidents

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Members of Derry’s District Policing Partnership (DPP) have clashed over how to deal with dissident republicans.

Dissidents have protested outside a number of DPP meetings in the past, causing two meetings to be abandoned and another to be cancelled.

Protests have been held at meetings at a number of venues, including the Guildhall, Tower Hotel and City Hotel.

The DPP members had invited dissident groups to the next public meeting, which was due to be held before the end of the month, but the invitation was declined.

A dispute has now arisen with the DPP over whether to continue attempts to engage with dissident republicans and members have failed to agree a date for the next meeting.

DPP chair, SDLP councillor Martin Reilly, said he hoped an agreement could be reached.

“People have the right to protest against the DPP but they do not have the right to prevent DPP meetings from taking place.

“These meetings deal with issues such as road safety, burglary, drugs and other areas of crime that every city has to deal with. By disrupting public meetings, the people of Derry are being denied the right to discuss these matters with the police.”

He said he hoped that the DPP could still have the required number of public meetings before the end of March.

Independent DPP member Linda Watson said she hoped the date for the next meeting could be agreed as soon as possible.

“Every meeting that has been disrupted, the dissidents or whoever is protesting are given the opportunity to go in and speak but they’re more intent on disrupting meetings,” she said.

Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney said the DPP should be given the time and space to find a solution to the dispute.

“The right to protest we accept. Every member of the DPP has given the space and allowed people to make their protests.

“But when people make their protests they have to be mindful that our decisions have the right to be heard and the right to hold the PSNI to account,” he said.