Northern Ireland

Tánaiste Micheál Martin says GAA must do more to encourage Catholics to join the PSNI

Tánaiste Micheál Martin. PICTURE: COLM LENAGHAN

Tánaiste Micheál Martin has said the GAA must do more to help boost the number of Catholics joining the PSNI.

The Fianna Fáil leader told The Irish News that the sports and cultural body needed to be more vocal in encouraging Catholics into the police service’s ranks.

He was speaking after meeting the Catholic Police Guild of Northern Ireland (CPG), whose chairman said the GAA’s engagement with his organisation to date had been “measured”.

The tánaiste said the PSNI was “not getting the support in the community”.

“The GAA can do more there; the GAA should be in lockstep to support Catholics going into the PSNI, because we need to follow through on Patten and the principles of Patten,” he said

First Minister Michelle O'Neill during the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s attestation ceremony for six newly qualified officers at Garnerville Police College  on Friday.
Sinn Féin attended a PSNI graduation ceremony for the first time.
First Minister Michelle O'Neill during the PSNI's attestation ceremony for six newly qualified recruits. PICTURE: COLM LENAGHAN

Asked what the organisation could do specifically, Mr Martin said the GAA “could be up front”.

“They should meet with them (the CPG), engage with them, allow them to brief all the county boards about what their work is, and how that it’s okay to join the PSNI,” Mr Martin said.

The PSNI is expected to launch a fresh recruitment drive in the coming months and Guild chair, Superintendent Gerry Murray believes it offers an opportunity to increase the number of Catholics in its ranks, which currently stands at around 30%.

He said the GAA was a “remarkable organisation” and that the CPG wanted to “tap into the high regard with which it is held in the nationalist and republican community”.

He said he hoped for a “positive response” to the guild’s plan to ask Ulster’s nine county boards if it could provide presentations about its work and efforts to encourage more Catholics to join the PSNI.

“I think the GAA must do more and, hopefully, will do more to help us realise the spirit of Patten – they, like the CPG, must take brave steps,” he said.

The GAA said its representative were scheduled to meet the CPG next month.

The Fianna Fáil leader’s remarks were part of a wide-ranging interview with The Irish News.