Northern Ireland news

Police reform across island of Ireland examined at event marking 20th anniversary of PSNI

New recruits of the Police Service of Northern Ireland march past the new PSNI logo during the first ever graduation ceremony in Belfast. Picture by Stephen Davison

ONGOING police reform across the island of Ireland will be examined today at an event marking the 20th anniversary of the PSNI.

The joint seminar from Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) and Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) will see a range of expert speakers reflect on human rights and reform in the PSNI and An Garda Síochána.

It is hosted by the Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice, and Queen's University Belfast's School of Law.

Policing reform was seen as an essential pillar of the Northern Ireland peace process, with the PSNI established 20 years ago following the Patten Report.

In the Republic "generational police reforms" are described as "entering a critical phase", with legislation on the restructured oversight mechanisms being brought forward.

The half-day seminar will feature an opening address from Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism.

Other speakers include NIHRC chief commissioner Alyson Kilpatrick, former Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire, former PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Stephen White, ex-An Garda Síochána Assistant Commissioner Jack Nolan and a community panel including Lilian Seenoi-Barr of the North West Migrants Forum.

Liam Herrick of ICCL said the PSNI anniversary is "an opportunity to reflect on the challenges of police reform north and south".

"Ensuring a human rights focus in policing, as well as appropriate transparency and proper accountability is crucial to ensure reforms North and South are and continue to be meaningful," he said.

Brian Gormally of CAJ said they hope "these discussions will strengthen this most important process of social reform".

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