Northern Ireland

PSNI chief constable hopes to meet Mary Lou McDonald

George Hamilton Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption George Hamilton was appointed chief constable in June 2014

The chief constable of the PSNI has said he hopes to meet Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald in Washington DC this week.

George Hamilton criticised Ms McDonald recently when she said she could not think of any current PSNI officer who should replace him when he retires in June.

He called the remarks inaccurate and "an act of poor leadership".

Ms McDonald has refused to apologise.

After taking part in an event on community policing in Washington on Tuesday, Mr Hamilton told BBC News NI he hoped the meeting could happen in the US capital later in the week.

He said his office and Ms McDonald's office had been in touch.

Staying home

Ms McDonald and her deputy Michelle O'Neill are expected to arrive in Washington on Wednesday, as is the DUP leader Arlene Foster and the UUP leader Robin Swann.

All five of the main Stormont parties have been invited to the White House on Thursday but two parties, the SDLP and Alliance have decided to remain at home.

'Nothing to apologise for'

Ms McDonald made the comments about the chief constable recruitment process last month following a meeting with senior officers to discuss the controversy over Police Ombudsman legacy files.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Mary Lou McDonald made her comments after meeting senior PSNI officers

In the meeting, Ms McDonald met a number of high-ranking PSNI officers, some of whom are expected to apply for the force's top job.

Speaking after meeting, she said: "Is there somebody inside who I think should be the chief constable?

"I have to answer honestly that no, I cannot identify such a person."

Mr Hamilton later said her comments were the antithesis of all Sinn Féin said they stood for.

Mrs McDonald refused to retract the comments and said there was "nothing to apologise for".

The Policing Board has since confirmed a Sinn Féin MLA will sit on the panel to appoint the new chief constable.

It sought legal advice after Ms McDonald's comments.

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