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Michelle O'Neill: Failed victims must be the priority amid row over PSNI chief

Sinn Féin held a meeting of the party's northern membership at the Balmoral Hotel in west Belfast on Saturday. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

CONTROVERSY over the recruitment of the next chief constable should not distract from the plight of victims failed by the legacy process, Michelle O'Neill has said.

The Sinn Féin vice president's remarks came amid the fallout after her party leader Mary Lou McDonald said she would not have confidence in any current member of the PSNI's senior command team replacing George Hamilton.

Mrs O'Neill was asked about the issue ahead of a meeting of Sinn Fein's northern membership in west Belfast on Saturday.

She declined to be drawn on whether Ms McDonald's remarks should see her party excluded from the recruitment panel that appoints the next chief constable.

"I think we can easily be distracted by all of these things," she said.

"I am most concerned about victims, I am most concerned about families who have been failed time and time again."

Mrs O'Neill added: "There has been a systematic failure within the PSNI to deal with the issue of legacy, they have failed time and time again on the issue of disclosure.

"So there will be a recruitment process for the chief constable and let the Policing Board do its work."

Ms O'Neill also questioned the rationale for delaying Brexit and predicted an extension of Article 50 would potentially only deliver more "chaos and Tory infighting".

Asked about the prospect of the timetable being pushed back, she said: "For Theresa May to extend the deadline you have to ask for what purpose, what would it serve."

The Sinn Féin meeting saw South Down MP Chris Hazzard elected as the party's new northern chair.

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