Leadership, not institutionalised sectarianism needed on police recruitment

01 October 2018

DUP MP Gregory Campbell has responded to reported comments from temporary deputy chief constable Stephen Martin about recruitment from the Roman Catholic community to the Police.

Gregory Campbell MP

DUP Spokesman on International Development and Cabinet Office

Gregory Campbell

In June, whilst speaking to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster the Chief Constable spoke of the ‘attrition rate’ for people from within the Catholic community who drop out between the point of applying to join the police and the end of the process. Mr Hamilton said there was a “real need for wider nationalism to take yet another step in terms of policing” and it required “politicians, civic leaders and church leaders to advocate for a career in policing”, adding “it is that level of advocacy that I think we need to really make a sea-change”.

Commenting on the temporary deputy chief constable’s remarks Mr Campbell said, “In June the Chief Constable was very clear; that nationalist representatives need to move beyond simple statements of support for policing, to become real advocates for a career for people from the Catholic community to choose policing as a career.

When I highlighted the Chief Constable’s comments at the time the SDLP chose to describe it as “nonsense” yet singularly failed to address the points made by Mr Hamilton about becoming an advocate for a career in policing. Instead Dolores Kelly only referred to a “consistent support for policing and justice”. That is precisely the attitude spoken of by the Chief Constable which nationalist representatives needed to move beyond.

Not only was the previous 50:50 recruitment institutionalised sectarianism, but it was totally counter-productive in that people from the Protestant community who had applied and were assessed as being suitable, were ruled out purely because they were Protestant. It was then, and remains now, a totally outrageous and unacceptable way to deal with recruitment. If it were to be considered again how many other areas of employment where Protestants are under-represented would have to be considered as well?

Mr Martin’s comments that Catholics who joined up were finding they had to stop participating in some “cultural” activities have echoes of the comments from Peadar Heffron and how he was ostracised by members of his GAA club after joining the PSNI. A reintroduction of 50:50 recruitment would do nothing to change such mind-sets; in fact it would exacerbate them, it needs the type of leadership outlined by the Chief Constable in June.”

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