News

Deputy Mayor appointed chairman of local policing body amidst objections

Thursday, 21 June 2018

CASTLEDERG Ulster Unionist councillor and Deputy Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Derek Hussey, has been appointed chairman of the local policing body amidst objections from Sinn Fein.
The nationalist party told Thursday's monthly meeting of the council's Health and Communities committee that it would not be supporting the UUP politician's nomination to the Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) due to his previous motoring convictions.
The former MLA has three previous convictions for drink-driving. He was banned for five years and fined 800 in 2016 and has other convictions in 2004 and 2011.
A report presented to councillors stated that under the system adopted by council, the position of chair is rotated and that this year it was the turn of the UUP to nominate.
"As the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) is the fourth largest party on council and as Alderman Hussey is the sole UUP representative on the PCSP, it is recommended that Alderman Hussey is nominated to take the position of PCSP chair.
"Alderman Hussey will serve as chair of the PCSP until the reconstitution of the PCSP following the next local government election," councillors were told.
As PCSP chair, the Derg councillor receives an allowance of 60 per meeting plus travel.
This allowance is fully reimbursed by the NI Policing Board up to a maximum of 30 meetings per annum," the report added.
However speaking to Mr Hussey's nomination, Sinn Fein's Eric McGinley said that his party could not support it as road safety was an important part of the PCSP's responsibilities.
He added that it would be "inappropriate" for him to take up the chairmanship due to his "publicly documented history of drink-driving offences".
"He has high-profile driving offences and road safety is an important matter in this role.
'Reflection'
"We cannot support his position as chairman and that is not a reflection on his record as a member of this committee," he said.
During the ensuing discussion, director of Health and Communities, Karen McFarland, said she was not aware of it having to be a pre-requisite that the person who took on the role did not have criminal convictions.
The DUP's Drew Thompson added that it had been agreed to rotate the chair and that as far as he was concerned the agreement was "binding" so there was "not much that can be done about it".
Alderman Hussey's nomination was subsequently accepted by the committee with Cllr McGinley stating that although the party would not be voting against the nomination, he wanted his party's opposition to be formally recorded.
It will go forward for ratification at the full meeting of the council at the end of this month.
Alderman Hussey admitted that he had been stung by the remarks but rejected the criticism saying his past record would not cloud his judgement on the policing body.
He said he had taken the comments "to heart" adding that it was unfortunate the debate over his nomination had taken place.
"I fully regret my actions which were dealt with by the courts. I will do my utmost to serve all members of the committee and the public as chair of the Policing and Community Safety Partnership. This will not affect my judgement as chair," he said.

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