Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council steps up security amid safety concerns

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The chief executive of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council said security has been stepped up in the chamber as a precaution further to breaches reported by other local authorities in Northern Ireland.

Speaking at a meeting at Mossley Mill, in Newtownabbey, on Monday evening, chief executive Richard Baker told councillors: “Security breaches are a reality of our political life. Group leaders have repeatedly asked me to look at and review security in this chamber especially with members of the public sitting in close proximity.”

The chief executive noted there have been incidents experienced by Derry and Strabane District Council and Belfast City Council.

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Antrim Civic Centre. Photo supplied by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough CouncilAntrim Civic Centre. Photo supplied by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council
Antrim Civic Centre. Photo supplied by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council

Mr Baker said doors will now be locked during committee and council meetings in Antrim and Newtownabbey. Councillors have been issued with lanyards and key cards to gain access.

He stated that this does not preclude access for the press and visitors who will also be issued with a lanyard and key card on production of photographic identification.

“It is an interim measure before we review wider security measures in this building.”

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Mr Baker went on to say the same arrangement will apply at Antrim Civic Centre although separate cards will be issued.

In November, Derry City and Strabane District Council was forced to halt a meeting due to anti-war protesters in council chambers.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter