DERRY City and Strabane District’s new deputy mayor Derek Hussey has welcomed the cancellation of the proposed sale of the police station in Castlederg.
Mr Hussey, who was installed as deputy to John Boyle of the SDLP at the council’s AGM on Monday night, said that while the motive was to deal with the possible fallout from the Brexit negotiation, it would also help to curb anti-social behaviour in the area.
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin confirmed on Sunday that Castlederg was one of three rural police stations which now been taken off the for sale market.
He said in a statement: “In light of the UK Referendum vote to leave the EU, we are reviewing decisions we previously made about some of our stations identified for disposal.
“Accordingly, it is our intention to pause the disposal of three stations in border areas, namely Warrenpoint, Castlederg and Aughnacloy.”
Said Deputy Mayor Hussey: “As the PSNI has not yet received details regarding potential border arrangements, this is a precautionary step to ensure that, whatever Brexit looks like in the future, we will be able to continue to keep our communities safe.
“Clearly this decision has come in the light of a lack of progress towards post-Brexit arrangements in regard to the border to be operated generally between the European Union and the United Kingdom and particularly along our international frontier with the Republic of Ireland.
“The PSNI are suggesting that they could need in the region of 300 additional officers to police this border.
“Those engaged in such border security would obviously require accommodation and administrative facilities such as those that they already own in border areas such as Castlederg, Warrenpoint and Aughnacloy.
“The present situation has emerged as a logical contingency plan retaining available facilities until such time as final Brexit arrangements emerge that will allow everyone to properly make their necessary arrangements in line with those legal requirements coming into place.
“A police presence being relocated back in our community would also undoubtedly offer greater reassurance to those vulnerable, elderly and isolated members of our community.
“This lack of local policing visibility is increasingly being highlighted across areas enduring increased criminal and anti-social behaviour and citizens are telling us that police are needed on the ground to curtail such difficulties.”
“Given that I know that Sinn Fein representatives are receiving the same concerns as the rest of us in regard to community safety, it is difficult to understand their on-going resistance to an increased PSNI presence within the community.”