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The chief constable said the attendance of deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill at the launch of the PSNI recruitment campaign got it off to “the best possible start”.
Simon Byrne launched the campaign on Tuesday.
It comes amid continued concerns over the PSNI’s ability to increase numbers of Catholic officers.
Ms O’Neill is deputy leader of Sinn Féin – its support is seen as important in encouraging more Catholic recruits.
She was one of a number of politicians at the event – including First Minister Arlene Foster – as well as representatives of churches and sporting bodies, such as the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA).
Mr Byrne said: “We don’t underestimate the significant step forward Sinn Féin has taken in endorsing this campaign merely by being here and beginning a conversation about how we can work differently to improve policing right across the country.
“I am very pleased.”
Sinn Féin has historically been critical of the role of the police in Northern Ireland, both the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), which replaced it in 2001.
In 2007 the party gave its support to the PSNI, but its representatives have not attended passing out parades for new recruits.
‘Reflective of community’
In the lead-up to the new campaign, the first since October 2018, there has been debate about whether a return to 50-50 recruitment is required.
A a50-50 recruitment policy ran for the first 10 years of the PSNI until 2011.
This meant that 50% of all recruits had to be from a Catholic background, and 50% from a Protestant or other background.
The policy saw numbers of Catholic police officers rise from 8% to 32%, but things have stalled years after it ended.
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Former chief constable Sir George Hamilton warned last year that numbers were “going to start to dip if nothing changes”.
Sinn Féin, the SDLP and senior Catholic clergymen favour its reintroduction, which would be a political decision, but unionists oppose it.
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said her attendance at the recruitment campaign launch “speaks volumes”.
“We need a PSNI that is reflective in terms of the community in which it serves,” she said.
First Minister Arlene Foster welcomed the recruitment drive, describing it as “significant”.
“It is important because there’s been a lot of conversations about the fact we need to have a police service that reflects Northern Ireland’s society,” she said.
Applications are open for about three weeks, with the first part of the process handled by professional services firm Deloitte.
Later stages of selection, conducted by the PSNI, involve criminal background checks and physical tests.
The PSNI is also aiming to attract more women and people of ethnic backgrounds.
Michelle O’Neill attending the launch of the new recruitment drive felt like a big step.
One long-serving PSNI commander even wondered if it was the policing equivalent of the Queen visiting Dublin.
Sinn Féin endorsing Northern Ireland policing in 2007 was of course more notable.
So, arguably, was the late Martin McGuinness’s very strong condemnation of dissident murders of PSNI officers.
Mrs O’Neill stopped short of urging young Catholics to join in her comments to the media.
Cynics also point out there is an election in the Republic of Ireland.
But for a party that has not attended passing out parades for new recruits, this was a significant moment in the party’s relationship with the PSNI.
It is not the only challenge facing the PSNI, as it strives to better reflect the composition of Northern Ireland society.
Former Chief Constable George Hamilton issued a warning over 50-50 recruitment
It has 6,900 officers and publishes data on their backgrounds.
Sixty-seven percent are “perceived” as being Protestant, 32% Catholic and 1% are from an ethnic minority.
Seven in every 10 officers are male.
The PSNI is also conscious of needing to improve interest from working class Protestants and members of the LGBT community.
With many thanks to: BBC NewsNI and Julian O’Neill Home Affairs Correspondent for the original story
Police Service of Northern Ireland
THE shooting of Aidan McAnespie as he made his way to a football match on a Sunday afternoon in February 1988 has hung heavily over the GAA and wider nationalist community.
Before his death the 23-year-old was the focus of a campaign of harassment by security forces and the manner of his death opened a sore that has festered for more than 30 years.
His family now hope that the prosecution of the British soldier who fired the fatal shot will provide answers to questions they have been asking for decades.
They have always rejected army claims that the Aughnacloy man was struck in the back by a ricochet bullet.
At his funeral, Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich was scathing in his criticism.
The anger felt by nationalists was compounded when a manslaughter charge against Grenadier Guardsman David Jonathan Holden was dropped in September 1988 and he was allowed to return to the British army.
Earlier this year former GAA director general Páraic Duffy wrote to the Irish government asking it to release the Crowley Report, which was compiled by then Garda deputy commissioner Eugene Crowley after the shooting.
The results of the investigation were received by then justice minister Gerry Collins in April 1988, but have never been published.
It also emerged this year that the north’s state pathologist has confirmed that a section of the Tyrone man’s rib cage was removed and later “disposed of”.
Archbishop Eamon Martin appealed to Secretary of State Karen Bradley to help locate the missing body part.
The continuing campaign for truth has taken its toll on the McAnespie family.
Speaking yesterday, Aidan’s brother Vincent paid tribute to his sister Eilish McCabe who died in 2008.
“My sister fought the campaign for nearly 20 years, she fought tirelessly for it,” he said.
“It actually wore Eilish down and it ended up she passed away after a 20-year campaign.
“But it was Eilish that got the HET (Historical Enquiries Team) on board at that early stage.
“And in fairness the HET helped to lead to this result.”
With many thanks to: The Irish News for the oigional story.
This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Ireland’s first hunger strike martyr Thomas Ashe.
Ashe from Lios Póil in the County Kerry Gaeltacht was a member of the Gaelic League, Irish Republican Brotherhood and GAA. He commanded the Fingal battalion of the Irish Volunteers during the Easter Rising.
On the 8th May 1916, Ashe and Eamon de Valera were court-martialed and sentenced to death. Both sentences were commuted to life, and Ashe was sent to a variety of English prisons. While in prison he wrote the poem “Let Me Carry Your Cross for Ireland, Lord”.
Thomas Ashe was released from jail in June 1917 under the general amnesty which was given to republican prisoners. Upon his release he returned to Ireland and began a series of speaking engagements. In August 1917, after a speech in Ballinalee, Longford, where Michael Collins had also been speaking, he was arrested and charged with “speeches calculated to cause disaffection”. He was sentenced to one year’s hard labour in Mountjoy Jail.
Ashe, along with Austin Stack, who was also in Mountjoy demanded to be treated as prisoners-of-war. Having been deprived of a bed, bedding and boots Ashe went on hunger strike on 20th September 1917. On 25th September 1917 he died from pneumonia, which was caused by force-feeding by the prison authorities. He was 32 years old.
From the smouldering embers of Easter Week 1916 the death on hunger strike of Ashe produced a flame. A flame which an empire failed to extinguish, which treachery could not subdue, which today burns its way through hypocrisy and coercion – a living flame.
With many thanks to: James Connolly.
Murdered after completing a game of Gaelic football.
Hugh was a keen footballer who played regularly, as such he was shot by his own….IPLO traitors….he was young and naive I feel and taken in by the IPLO. A son and da beloved to many and still grieved by mam and sister.
Only twenty one years old when he died. A young life needlessly cut short. His infectious laugh and youthful enthusiasm will be sadly missed, may he rest in peace. This traitorous act destroyed many in this young man’s life.
I do not honour the IPLO but I do this memorial out of respect for an old friend I lost touch with. I hope somehow he gets the message…..friends should be friends FOREVER and there should be no DEADLY DIVISIONS anymore.
Rest on heavens softest pillow Óglach Hugh McKibben of the tragic IPLO.
With many thanks to: Chaírde ar an Arm Náisiúnta Fuascailte na hÉireann.
Follow the link below:
– http:// http://youtu.be/oVmWsA4hL1g
“Unless the HET report is provided in 14 days I will go to the High Court – Mr John Leckey, Coroner’s Office.
THE North’s most senior coroner has threatened to go to court to force Chief Constable Matt (the maggot) Bagott to release the report into the murder of Derry GAA official Sean Brown.
The devolopment came during a preliminary inquest hearing yesterday, the father-of-six’s abduction and brutal killing in May 1997. Mr Brown’s family, their legal team and the Coroner’s Office have been denied access to a Historical Enquiries Team (HET) report which was completed last year. The investigation was launched after the Brown family raised concerns about the police investigation into the sectarian murder, one the most shocking of the Troubles. In an unusual move, Mr John Leckey warned a solicitor acting for the RUC/PSNI yesterday that he would seek a High Court subpoena compelling it to hand over the report. He said he has been “dealing with the inquest for Sean Brown for years and years”. “Unless the HET report is provided in 14 days I will go to the High Court….. to require the chief constable to produce the report to me,” he said. He added that to seek the subpoena was “a procedure of last resort as far as I am concerned”. During the short hearing Mr Leckey also insisted the start date for an inquest into the circumstances of Mr Brown’s death was “set in stone”. It is due to begin in January next year. Mr Brown was abducted while locking the gates of Bellaghy Wolf Tone’s GAA club, of which he was chairman. It is believed the 61-year-old was driven past Toomebridge RUC station to a secluded laneway near Randalstown in Co An trim where he was shot in the head six times. His body was later found beside his burning car.
The LVF is believed to have been responsible for the killing which sent shockwaves through the GAA community. Speaking after yestery’s hearing, the Brown family solicitor Kevin Winters said Mr Leckey’s comments represent “a major breakthrough in the fight for justice for the family of Sean Brown”. Paul O’ Conner from the Pat Finucane Centre, who attended the hearing with Mr Brown’s son, accused the RUC/PSNI of “dragging their heels for years”. “They have not produced the documention required by the coroner to carry out a proper inquest,” he said. “This has caused untold distress for the Brown family.” A spokesman for the RUC/PSNI last night said: “PSNI are aware of the comments made by the coroner, Mr John Leckey, today and are considering these in relation to the report. Meanwhile a preliminary hearing into the death of Catholic teenager Gerard Lawlor has heard that an investigation by the Police Ombudsman has been given a “new impetus” since ombudsman Michael Maguire took up office in July 2012. Mr Lawlor, a father-of-one, was shot dead by the UDA as he walked close to the Antrim Road in July 2002. A represtative of the ombudsman’s office told the coroner John Leckey that the delay in producing the report into the 19-year-old’s murder was down to “some matters inhibiting our ability to move forward”. “I don’t want to go into details to what they are,” he said. The Lawler family solicitor, Niall Murphy, said he had met with representatives of the Police Ombudsman and had “no objections” to their submissions to the ccoroner.
With many thanks to: Connla Young, The Irish News.