Recruit new police chief from within PSNI, urges widow Kate
THE widow of the first PSNI officer to be murdered by republican paramilitaries said she would prefer the next Chief Constable to come from Northern Ireland.
Kate Carroll yesterday marked the fifth anniversary of the death of her husband Stephen, who was shot dead while answering a 999 call in Craigavon on March 9, 2009.
A successor to Matt Baggott, who is retiring as Chief Constable, will be made later this year and the recruiting criteria – which states that applicants must have served at Assistant Chief Constable rank for a minimum of two years outside of Northern Ireland – would rule out a local successor.
Justice Minister David Ford's plans to make this proviso 'desirable' rather than mandatory has prompted opposition from the DUP and Sinn Fein but would find favour with Mrs Carroll.
"I would really like to see the post filled by someone who really knows how Northern Ireland works; someone who has been here," she told the Belfast Telegraph.
"It would be preferable to someone from across the water who doesn't have a great knowledge of what goes on, only what they hear on the news."
She added: "I think we need somebody who is hands-on, who knows what's happening and can apply his or her experience of the everyday workings of terrorists and everything else."
Mr Baggott will bring his 37-year policing career to an end in September, relinquishing his right to seek a two-year extension.
The Englishman, who took up the post in September 2009, was criticised by unionists and nationalists over the way the PSNI dealt with flag protests and parades.
The highest ranked PSNI officer from Northern Ireland, Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie, is retiring this month.
Under the new guidelines, Ms Gillespie would have been able to apply for the position.
The only member of the force's hierarchy who could be considered for the job is Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton, who served almost three years at the same rank in Scotland.
Meanwhile, Mrs Carroll said she still keeps in touch with Sir Hugh Orde, President of the Association of Chief Police Officers, who was PSNI Chief Constable at the time of her husband's murder and who spoke at his funeral.
In an interview at her Banbridge home, Mrs Carroll also revealed her friendship with Nuala Kerr, the mother of PSNI officer Ronan Kerr who was killed by a dissident car bomb in 2011.
"Ronan's murder was like going through my husband's all over again," said Mrs Carroll.
"It was just so dreadful that they had deliberately set out to kill a young man for nothing.
"At the end of the day there's been nothing achieved by it."
Brendan McConville, from Glenholme Avenue in Craigavon and John Paul Wooton, from Collindale in Lurgan, are both appealing against their convictions for the murder of Con Carroll.