Belfast Telegraph

Equality Commission reminds Policing Board of discrimination laws after McDonald's PSNI Chief Constable outburst

Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

The Equality Commission has expressed its concern over comments from Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald on the next PSNI Chief Constable.

The commission has written to the Policing Board to "to remind it of its responsibilities under equality legislation to recruit in a non-discriminatory way".

"The Policing Board will need to ensure that the principles of equality law are applied fully and rigorously in the forthcoming competition for a new chief constable and that all involved are aware of the critical importance of this," said Chief Commissioner Dr Michael Wardlow.

The move comes after Mrs McDonald said that she did not believe there was suitable candidate within the PSNI to replace outgoing Chief Constable George Hamilton.

The Equality Commission which works to advance equality in all its forms in Northern Ireland. It was formed as part of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Dr Wardlow said the organisation was concerned at the remarks by the Sinn Fein leader. The party has three members on the Policing Board which will appoint the next chief constable following George Hamilton's retirement in May.

"Fair employment and equal opportunities legislation are built upon open and transparent practices, free from political interference and based upon the merit principle," he said.

"This approach has been important in helping to create fair employment procedures on which all prospective applicants can rely."

Sinn Fein leader McDonald made the comments on Monday after attending a meeting with the PSNI to discuss the recent failure to disclose sensitive information to the police ombudsman on legacy cases.

"Is there somebody specific inside the PSNI, is there somebody inside who should be the Chief Constable?" she asked.

"I have to answer honestly that no, I can't identify such a person.

"Lots of this is about who leads, who is in the top job within the policing, but it goes much broader than that."

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