Political opponents quick to condemn McDonald over police chief remarks

The Sinn Fein leader’s comments on the selection of the new PSNI chief constable has led to criticism from a number of political opponents.

Mary Lou McDonald indicated she wants someone outside the PSNI to replace Chief Constable George Hamilton when he retires in June.

The party president said she did not have confidence in any of the current senior PSNI command team to succeed Mr Hamilton.

DUP Policing Board Member Mervyn Storey MLA said he was seeking legal advice from the Chief Executive of the Policing Board regarding Ms McDonald’s comments.

“This is a very foolish comment,” he said.

“There are many capable officers in the PSNI and to make such a blanket statement is an outrageous generalisation.

“Policing Board members will be responsible for interviewing and assessing any future chief constable.

“How can any SF member sit on that panel and candidates from the PSNI expect to get a fair hearing?

“Anyone sitting on that panel must be fair and open-minded rather than having a pre-determined
outcome.”

Likewise, Alliance Policing Board member John Blair questioned whether Sinn Fein can remain on the interview panel to select a new chief constable.

“This was a careless and irresponsible thing to say,” said the South Antrim MLA.

“It would be the ideal scenario to have as broad a representation as possible on the selection panel which interviews candidates and decides upon George Hamilton’s replacement.

“However, this intervention from Mary Lou McDonald now begs the question as to whether any Sinn Fein representative can sit on that panel.”

The Ulster Unionist Party’s Policing Board representative, Alan Chambers, has responded by asking if Sinn Fein is preparing to withdraw support for policing.

“Mary Lou McDonald needs to be very careful in what she says,” he said.

“There will be genuine concerns that this is Sinn Fein’s way of signalling that it is preparing to withdraw support for policing in Northern Ireland.

“You would almost think they don’t want to be policed by anyone.”

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