Belfast Telegraph

SDLP MLA Kelly withdraws from PSNI chief interviews for 'personal reasons'

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly
SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly has withdrawn from the interview panel to select the next PSNI Chief Constable for "personal reasons".

Interviews for the top policing job in Northern Ireland begin on Thursday. Current Chief Constable George Hamilton is set to retire next month.

PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin and Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton will compete against two England-based policemen for the role.

Simon Byrne previously served as the Chief Constable of Cheshire Police, while Jon Boutcher is the head of Bedfordshire Police.

A decision on the next Chief Constable is expected to be announced by Secretary of State Karen Bradley on Friday evening.

Mr Boutcher is also overseeing an inquiry into the IRA informer known as 'Stakeknife'.

The interview panel will be made up of members of the Policing Board, comprised of political representatives and independent members.

The BBC reports Upper Bann MLA Mrs Kelly withdrew from the process at an earlier stage, leaving the SDLP without a presentative.

A Policing Board spokesperson said that the withdrawal would have no impact on the process as "the panel remains representative".

On the interview panel are MLAs John Blair (Alliance), Alan Chambers (UUP), Linda Dillon (Sinn Fein), Mervyn Storey (DUP) and independent members Anne Connolly, Colm McKenna and Wendy Osborne.

Jon Boutcher, Stephen Martin, Mark Hamilton and Simon Byrne
Jon Boutcher, Stephen Martin, Mark Hamilton and Simon Byrne

The interview process will be independently monitored by external advisors after Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald suggested that the new Chief Constable should not come from within the PSNI.

Following the comments the Policing Board took legal advice and hired the advisors to monitor scoring during the interviews.

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