Belfast Telegraph

Chief Constable hopes to meet Sinn Fein leader in Washington

George Hamilton (Brian Lawless/PA)
George Hamilton (Brian Lawless/PA)

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton has said he hopes to meet Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald in Washington DC this week during St Patrick's Day celebrations.

Last month, the Sinn Fein leader drew criticism after she said she would not have confidence in any current senior PSNI member taking over from Mr Hamilton when he retires in June.

"Is there somebody inside who I think should be the chief constable?" she said.

"I have to answer honestly that no, I cannot identify such a person."

Many detractors said she had "compromised" the future recruitment process for the role, questioning whether any Sinn Fein member should be allowed to set on the appointment panel.

Mr Hamilton branded the remarks "inaccurate" and "an act of poor leadership".

Ms McDonald refused to withdraw her comments, stating: "There’s nothing to apologise for, there’s no retraction to be made."

Speaking after an event on policing in Washington on Tuesday, the Chief Constable told BBC NI he hoped to meet Mrs McDonald in the capital later this week.

He added that his office and the Sinn Fein president's office had been in touch over the potential meeting.

Mrs McDonald and Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O'Neill are expected to arrive in Washington on Wednesday.

DUP leader Arlene Foster and Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann will also touch down in the capital on the same day.

Following February's controversy, the Policing Board sought legal advice over Mary Lou McDonald's comments.

It has since confirmed, however, that a Sinn Fein MLA will sit on the panel to appoint the new PSNI leader.

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