According to the BBC report’s headline -“Justice minister may look into the rehiring of RUC officers”. Well, he may.
At issue, apparently, are the unknown number of former RUC officers in the 399 staff currently supplied by a recruitment agency for temporary employment, as civilians, by the PSNI. Apparently, again, “Sinn Fein has asked the Northern Ireland Audit Office to investigate the issue.” [Because the NI Policing Board decided not to? - Ed] Possibly…
But as the first linked BBC report notes of the NI Justice Minister’s comments
Mr Ford said he was happy to discuss the matter but there are unlikely to be any changes in the immediate future.
“It can only be done by the assembly. That would require approval by the justice committee, the executive and by the assembly as a whole,” he said.
“But I am not persuaded at this stage that it would be an issue which will be easy to address or it will be a process which would achieve what is being said.
“I am open to dialogue about the issue, but what is abundantly clear is there are wider employment law issues which would be brought in and I remain to be convinced that it would make the kind of change suggested.”
And as the same report also notes
In a statement a PSNI spokesperson said: “The Police Service of Northern Ireland will continue, as it always has done, to follow UK and European employment legislation.
“As an employer, we are duty bound to do so. This legislation does not allow discrimination against any individual based on their former employment.”
So the NI Justice Minister may look into it, but he may be powerless to do anything about it. Even if he wanted to, and he doesn’t seem to be convinced that he could legally change the situation anyway. As for Sinn Féin’s protests
Policing Board member Gerry Kelly said: “People who went out through the Patten scheme got huge severance packages, probably the best in the world.
“In some of these circumstances you are talking about people taking the package and coming back within months – sometimes to do the same job as they left. None of that is acceptable.
“What is clear about this is it is not right, it is not the way to take the policing project forward and we need to put an end to it and the justice minister can do that.”