Northern Ireland

Nationalist confidence in PSNI 'at rock bottom' - Sinn Féin

Raymond McCartney
Image caption Raymond McCartney said a lack of trust in the police among nationalists could have implications for recruitment

Confidence in the PSNI among nationalists is at "rock bottom", a Sinn Féin MLA has said.

Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney said it could have implications for recruitment.

He said the failure of police to disclose files on loyalist murders to the Police Ombudsman had completely undermined public faith in the PSNI's handling of legacy cases.

The police commander in Londonderry rejected the comments.

Supt Alan Hutton said increased public confidence in policing had played a key role in helping to drive down crime rates in the city.

He said it must be remembered how much progress has been made, pointing to the increase in Catholic representation in the service from 8% to the current level of 32%.

"There are challenges there but I do believe that the wider community are supportive of police," Supt Hutton said.

But over the past three years, for every five officers that signed up to the PSNI, four were Protestant and one was Catholic.

"In the current climate, I don't think there'd be too many people knocking at my door looking advice [on joining the police]," Mr McCartney said.

"I think confidence is rock bottom and it's rock bottom because of the actions of the PSNI themselves.

"No-one else is responsible for this. They have a responsibility for disclosure."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Comments Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald made about the process to succeed Chief Constable George Hamilton caused controversy

Meanwhile, Derry DUP councillor Drew Thompson said he feared comments this week by Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald about her lack of confidence in the PSNI leadership would have an impact on recruitment to the service.

"I think the comments that Mary Lou McDonald made aren't very helpful to an area like this," Mr Thompson said.

"You're going to have a number of people who would engage [with] and want to join the PSNI stepping back and thinking 'are we safe to do so anymore?'"

On Monday, Ms McDonald indicated an outsider should replace the current Chief Constable George Hamilton.

Ms McDonald made her controversial comments after meeting senior PSNI officers to discuss the Police Ombudsman legacy files.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said the process to appoint a new chief constable had been compromised by the comments.

The Equality Commission and Police Federation also expressed concern about them.

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