Category: Archive

New police force recruiting off to rocky start

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Anne Cadwallader BELFAST — The long-awaited recruitment campaign for the new police service in Northern Ireland has begun – without the support of either of the two political parties representing nationalists. Both the SDLP and Sinn Fein have yet to endorse the proposed service to their supporters, but the RUC Chief Constable, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, decided to go ahead and begin the campaign anyhow. Television advertisements were broadcast on Friday seeking applications for the new service, emphasising the importance of community policing and public service. Two-hundred and forty officers are needed for training. First reports are that a significant number of Catholics have already applied for the new jobs, leading Fr. Denis Faul, a supporter of the British proposals now in place, to say the argument over whether nationalists would join the force was “over.” Others, however, say that whatever the number of Catholics who have applied, they are unlikely to be actively of a nationalist or republican persuasion, as the two main parties representing those views are against the proposals in place. Those who pass the entrance qualifications will be placed in a pool of applicants. From the pool, 120 Catholic applicants and 120 Protestant will be appointed, trained and put to work in Spring 2002. Applicants will have to state their religion on the forms being sent out, but those vetting them will not at any stage know from which community they come. Flanagan said he needed the new recruits to make up for those who were retiring or taking redundancy. He said there was an urgent need to increase the number of police officers and this meant he could not wait any longer. Trainees, aged 18 to 52 in September, will be selected by an independent recruitment agency, which has opened an office in Belfast. “I would have dearly loved to be launching this campaign in the face of full endorsement, full support, full encouragement from all sections of our community,” Flanagan said. Sinn Fein has urged nationalists not to apply to the service and has said the recruitment, coming ahead of resolution of the policing issue, is illegal. Policing spokesman Gerry Kelly dismissed Sir Ronnie’s comments motive and said his party would not accept anything short of the recommendations of the Patten report. “The chief constable already has 13,000 people. In a normal situation he would have 6,000, so the rush for recruitment is a falsehood,” Kelly said. SDLP policing spokesman Alex Attwood said his party would be more “convinced by a new beginning to policing than a new advertizing campaign. If we achieve that over the next number of days there will be a much better response to the ads,” he said.

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