Nationalist parties back return of 50:50 recruitment

Sinn Féin and the SDLP have urged the return of 50:50 recruitment to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), The Irish Times reports.

Figures show that just 31 per cent of the 7,700 applicants for 300 new officer posts are Catholic.

Catholics currently make up just 31.5 per cent of existing officers, despite making up around 45 per cent of the broader population.

Under the 50:50 recruitment policy which existed from 2001–11, 50 per cent of new recruits had to come from the Catholic community. It was introduced when just 8 per cent of PSNI officers were Catholics.

Gerry Kelly, policing spokesperson for Sinn Féin, claimed that the “biggest hindrance to nationalist recruitment to the PSNI remains legacy issues and the PSNI covering the RUC by refusing to disclose information on collusion and delaying and actively hindering disclosure to the courts even in the face of court orders”.

Dolores Kelly, policing spokesperson for the SDLP, said the introduction of a cadet scheme, as recommended in the 1999 Patten report, could encourage Catholic people to join the PSNI.

Ms Kelly said: “It should now be given more attention and the notion of police cadets ought now be acceptable to Sinn Féin.

“Such an initiative also has the potential to enable greater uptake from other underrepresented groups.”