Derry Council seeks meeting with Simon Byrne to discuss Derry incidents; demands end to 'controlling powers of MI5'

Derry City and Strabane District Councillors have called upon PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne to attend a meeting to discuss recent policing operations in the area.

Friday, 23rd April 2021, 11:52 am
Updated Friday, 23rd April 2021, 11:54 am

A special council meeting was called by Mayor, Councillor Brian Tierney to discuss recent incidents and violence in the City.

A number of motions were put forward at the meeting, the first from SDLP Councillor Martin Reilly.

The Waterside Councillor’s motion stated: "This council is significantly worried at various policing incidents occurring in our council area over recent weeks and calls on the PSNI Chief Constable, the chair of the Policing Board and its human rights advisor to present to council as soon as possible on public policing concerns in the district."

Chief Constable Simon Byrne

Referring to recent incidents in the Waterside area, Councillor Reilly said: “I think this is an opportunity to speak out against all violence and rightly indicate that this Council does not support such actions.

“There’s a duty on us all collectively to appeal for calm but there is also a duty to hold the police to account when we see bad policing and also to point out when we see good policing taking place.”

Councillor John Boyle seconded the motion which passed with 29 votes for, 3 against and 2 abstentions.

The second motion of the evening was proposed by Independent councillor Paul Gallagher. and it called for the 'controlling powers of MI5' to be removed from policing.

Referring to the Chief Constable Simon Byrne, Colr. Gallagher told the meeting: “He doesn’t have the power that people expect him to have as a Chief Constable because he is operating under the control of MI5.

“MI5 as we all know it and we have all known it for years, in this district Council area, have manipulated and controlled policing at a deeply, deeply heavy price to our communities."

Independent Councillor Sean Carr seconded the proposal which passed with 26 votes for, 5 against and 2 abstentions.

Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly proposed a third motion which read: "Given the serious concerns following PSNI actions on vulnerable members of our community, DCSDC contact all schools in the district and call on them to end the practice of allowing the PSNI access to children under the guise of education."

Councillor Donnelly said: “My politics on policing are well known but what I have heard for the duration of this meeting and previous meetings is that there are very, very serious concerns right across the board regarding the PSNI.

“Some people have said they want to hold them to account but this isn’t being reflected on the streets by working class youth, right across this city and district there are issues.

“As adults we can decide and make choices in an informed way but children can be vulnerable and susceptible. We should not allow the PSNI to have access to our children."

The motion, seconded by Independent Councillor Paul Gallagher, failed to carry, falling with 26 votes against, 6 for and 1 abstention.

The fourth and final motion of the night was proposed by People Before Profit Councillor Maeve O'Neill.

The motion read: "Council notes that amongst the demands for radical police reforms across the globe - providing proper support to someone experiencing ill mental health is of the utmost importance. Council agrees the use of armed police as first responders to an individual experiencing a mental health crisis is inappropriate. Council agrees that mental health workers with the proper resources are best placed to respond to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis."

Following debate, the proposal which was seconded by PBP Councillor Shaun Harkin, passed unanimously.