Northern Ireland news

Police Federation appoints Liam Kelly as first Catholic chairman

Newly-appointed Police Federation Northern Ireland chairman Liam Kelly

THE Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) has appointed Liam Kelly as its new chairman.

Mr Kelly, who is understood to be the first Catholic officer to hold the position, succeeds Mark Lindsay next month.

His appointment comes amid continued debate about how more Catholics can be encouraged to join the PSNI.

Figures published last year, two decades after the Patten reforms, showed that 75 per cent of police recruits in 2020 were Protestant and 24 per cent Catholic.

Mr Kelly joined the RUC in 1994 as a graduate and was promoted to sergeant with the PSNI some 11 years later, before becoming an inspector in 2007.

He has been a PFNI representative since 2011 and was appointed as the representative body's assistant secretary in 2018, and secretary the following year. He is also the organisation's representative on the regional Police Advisory Group.

Mr Kelly said he was "immensely proud, humbled and honoured" to have received the unanimous backing of the PFNI's central committee.

"I will continue to work tirelessly for officers and be a strong voice and advocate for them across a whole range of issues," he said.

"I want to pay tribute to Mark for his leadership of the PFNI over the last seven years. He implemented positive change within the organisation and undertook many initiatives to assist and support our members in both practical and meaningful ways."

He said his predecessor's "experience, knowledge, insightful contributions and forthright advocacy" were greatly valued by his colleagues.

Mr Lindsay said he had "always endeavoured to represent the views of police officers who day and daily make an enormous and often under-appreciated contribution to our society".

Outgoing Police Federation Northern Ireland chairman Mark Lindsay. Picture by Police Federation Northern Ireland/PA Wire

"Liam has been PFNI secretary for three years and has great in-depth knowledge particularly around pensions, equality and working practices," he said.

"I have no doubt that when he takes up his new role as chair, he will continue to confront difficult issues and robustly and fairly advocate for the brave men and women I have been privileged to represent.”

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