Northern Ireland news

Sinn Féin agree to attend 'de-militarised' PSNI passing out ceremonies

Chief Constable Simon Byrne chats with Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill and NI Policing Board member Gerry Kelly at the launch of a new student officer recruitment drive. Picture by Stephen Davison.

Sinn Féin will attend future PSNI passing out ceremonies once recommendations to 'demilitarise' the process are implemented, the Irish News can reveal.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill stood shoulder to shoulder on Tuesday with DUP leader Arlene Foster and Chief Constable Simon Byrne at the launch of the PSNI's latest recruitment drive.

It comes amid continued concerns over the PSNI's ability to attract enough Catholic officers.

Ms O'Neill said her attendance at the recruitment launch "speaks volumes" about her party's position.

It is understood that Sinn Féin have also agreed in principle to attend future PSNI passing out ceremonies once recommendations in the Police College Review, carried out by Alan Gibson of Police Scotland, are implemented.

The review found the current regime at the college had "elements more associated with a pseudo-militaristic style".

Sinn Féin expressed concerns that it was off putting to new recruits as "a relic of a police force of the past, more associated with the old RUC than a modern police service".

The Chief Constable said yesterday: "We don't underestimate the significant step forward Sinn Féin has taken in endorsing this campaign".

Arlene Foster welcomed the recruitment drive saying; "We need to have a police service that reflects Northern Ireland's society".

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Northern Ireland news