Belfast Telegraph

David Ford's role in hunt for PSNI chief criticised

By Michael McHugh

Northern Ireland's Justice Minister has been accused of unilaterally interfering in a key part of the appointment process for the next Chief Constable.

Minister David Ford faced cross-party criticism over a proposed rule change allowing more senior PSNI officers to apply to replace the retiring Matt Baggott.

Restricting candidates to those who had spent some time in a high-powered role outside Northern Ireland helped change nationalist perceptions of the force, Sinn Fein said.

SDLP Assembly member Alban Maginness told the minister: "It would appear that you acted unilaterally in relation to the proposed change in the minimum criteria."

He added: "You knew that there was an emerging (political) consensus that there should be no change."

The appointment process for a successor for Mr Baggott, who steps down in September, begins soon and will be run by the Policing Board of politicians and community representatives.

Alliance leader Mr Ford suggested the mandatory requirements for candidates be changed to remove a clause that they must have served two years at assistant chief constable rank in a force elsewhere, which ruled out many potential PSNI applicants.

Mr Ford wants to make this "desirable" rather than mandatory and fended off allegations at Stormont he had been naive and described the change as modest.

He received significant guidance from the Equality Commission about the impact of the current rules on some potential applicants from a minority background and said the law had changed similarly in England.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph