Northern Ireland

Sinn Féin MLA on panel to select new PSNI chief constable

Sinn Féin MLA Linda Dillon
Image caption Sinn Féin MLA Linda Dillon will sit on the panel responsible for selecting a new PSNI chief constable

A Sinn Féin MLA will sit on the panel to appoint a new PSNI chief constable, the Policing Board has confirmed.

It follows controversy over comments made by the party leader, Mary Lou McDonald, who was accused of compromising the recruitment process.

Ms McDonald suggested an outsider should replace the current Chief Constable George Hamilton.

On Wednesday, the Policing Board said Mid Ulster MLA Linda Dillon will be among five politicians on the panel.

The Sinn Féin representative joins other MLAs including John Blair of the Alliance Party, Ulster Unionist Alan Chambers, Dolores Kelly of the SDLP, and the DUP's Mervyn Storey.

Image caption PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton, left, is to retire in the summer

Last month, Ms McDonald, the Sinn Féin president, was accused by the DUP of interfering with due process after her remarks.

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland said Ms McDonald's comments, which followed a meeting to discuss the controversy over Police Ombudsman legacy files, were "offensive".

In Wednesday's statement revealing the selection panel, Policing Board Chair Anne Connolly said that "in order to provide further assurance and confidence", the board has agreed "to incorporate additional independent scrutiny throughout the process to bring an extra level of probity and transparency".

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald was accused of compromising the recruitment process

She added: "This is a significant appointment for policing and following discussions today, the board is fully confident that the process can move ahead with integrity and on the basis of equality of opportunity for all."

She said that the recruitment process would be "based on the key principles of merit, fairness, openness and transparency".

The appointment process is expected to be completed by the end of June.

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