SDLP: 50/50 recruiting of PSNI must continue
Northern Ireland's 50/50 recruitment scheme for Catholics and Protestants entering the police must continue if a balanced service is to be delivered, nationalists have claimed.
The Government is scheduled to end the scheme next year when the number of Catholic officers in the historically Protestant dominated force reaches 30%.
The SDLP has said that is too low a threshold given that Catholics make up at least 44% of Northern Ireland's population.
The party said that in the absence of positive discrimination it would take 30 years for Catholic population levels to be reflected among officers, or among police support staff where the SDLP said Catholic numbers currently sit at 17.7%.
Former governor of Hong Kong Chris Patten led a commission that made major proposals for police reform, including the 50/50 recruitment scheme, and while unionist politicians have attacked the scheme, nationalists have said it has succeeded in boosting Catholic numbers, and they wish to see it extended beyond the proposed March 2011 deadline.