Reduced councillor representation on policing committees rejected

COUNCILLORS in Mayo will resist any move to reduce the number of elected public representatives on the county policing forum.

Joint Policing Committees (JPCs) are set to be replaced by Local Community Safety Partnerships, which are being piloted in three areas. They involve greater community representation, including residents, youth, schools and the business sectors, as well as State agencies, the HSE and Tusla.

The number of councillors will be cut to seven under the proposals, with Oireachtas members being excluded.

Mayo JPC, which has been very effective, received a presentation from the Department of Justice at a meeting on the new arrangements.

Councillor Damien Ryan let the department know that any attempt to diminish democratic representation would be resisted, describing it as a 'retrograde step'.

Bringing in the community, business and other sectors and enhancing the JPCs was the way to go, he stated.

Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh said it seemed to her that they were trying to fix something that isn't broken.

Councillor Michael Loftus said he has spoken to members involved in two of the pilots and they weren't happy with the set-up and that has to be addressed.

He couldn't see how communities are going to be empowered by what is proposed, and he called on Oireachtas members to oppose what is being put forward.

Councillor Michael Kilcoyne received clarity on his question about how many partnerships there would be - each local authority area will have one.

The point was made by Councillor Michael Burke that councillors have a big role. They are on the ground meeting people who may come to them with a problem before they will go to the guards.

Elected members needed a bigger role than what is being envisaged.

Highlighting the vastness of Mayo, Councillor Gerry Coyle reminded the department that from Belderrig to Leenane stretches over 100 miles. He wanted to see councillors and communities having a say.

Mr. Ben Ryan from the department said local councillors will still be the biggest group with seven representatives.

Councillor Ryan reiterated a previous call to send a delegation to meet the Minister for Justice before any decisions are made.