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“That would require approval by the justice committee, the executive and by the assembly as a whole”

Wed 21 December 2011, 11:18pm

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.”

[Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the Dark Side - Ed]  Indeed…

Btw, did those ‘sweeteners’ leave an aftertaste?

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Comments (11)

  1. Decimus (profile) black spot says:

    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.

    Doh!

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  2. sonofstrongbow (profile) says:

    Yet again Sinn Fein wish to keep some of the ‘conflict’ alive – as long as themuns are the target. For Shinners it’s not discrimination so long as the victim is a ‘Trevor’.

    As to Gerry Kelly’s reference to the “best package on the world”, nonsense of course. Officers were only eligible for the amount they would have earned if they had been allowed to continue their service to their contracted retirement date. As it was they were not made redundant. They were ‘encouraged’ to leave and their jobs handed to the 50/50ers.

    On the substantive issue surely the question should be why were these people let go in the first place? If the work is deemed essential in contemporary policing it would appear that (Sinn Fein) politics took precedence over professional policing considerations and now the PSNI is having to play catch-up. Recruitment is conducted in compliance with employment law, what is Sinn Fein’s problem with that? It can’t be pure bigotry, can it?

    Interestingly all this Republican angst about exRUC working as civilians within the PSNI in the same week that statistics were released showing it is the 50/50ers who attract the most complaints against police.

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  3. Reader (profile) says:

    Shouldn’t a socialist party be complaining that people are being re-employed to do the same job at less pay? (Gerry Kelly is insisting it’s exactly the same job, in some cases, isn’t he?)

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  4. Cynic2 (profile) says:

    Following Ingram’s revelations in the Bel Tel last night that 50% of the Republican Movement Leadership were informers, will Gerry Kelly now apply the same criteria to SF MLAs and Councillors drawing a salary at Stormont and getting payments from MI5 and PSNI?

    Will any of our brave reporters dare ask him?

    Is that why they are so happy to live on the ‘average industrial wage’?

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  5. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    strongbow:

    As to Gerry Kelly’s reference to the “best package on the world”, nonsense of course. Officers were only eligible for the amount they would have earned if they had been allowed to continue their service to their contracted retirement date.

    Surely you have to admit that this is a hell of a deal. There were officers walking away with in excess of £0.5m.

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  6. sonofstrongbow (profile) says:

    CS,

    No it was not a “hell of a deal” in the pejorative sense you mean it.

    The oft-quoted half-mill applied to a very, very few officers at very senior levels, mainly Assistant Chief Constables and Chief Superintendents.

    I repeat myself. Officers were entitled to no more than they could have earned if they had completed their careers. Constables and Sergeants could have worked to the compulsory retirement age of 55. Inspectors and above to age 60. To qualify for Patten officers needed to be at least 45 with 25 years service (and that’s 25 years of plus 11% pension contributions). Applicants were made up to 30 years pensionable service and retired on full pension. Some could choose to reduce their yearly pensions and take a lump sum (as could many other government employees anywhere in the UK). Hence the big bucks for some high paid senior officers.

    In fact it could be argued that officers taking early retirement were worse off given that they could not benefit from incremental pay rises that they could have had if they had continued in service.

    But what was the alternative? No Patten, no space for the 50/50ers. Those agitating against the “old-guard RUC” would not have worn that. Sack a few thousand police and then recruit new ones? That would have unleashed a rash of legal challenges using employment law, anti-discrimination statues and, of course, Human Rights.

    I’ll out myself as having had professional relationships with retired police officers. Many have gone on to sell their skills in the international arena. I know one, now living overseas and running his own security consultancy, who is undoubtably now a millionaire.

    Perhaps people should be asking themselves why others are benefiting from the skills and experience base nurtured at public expense in Northern Ireland? The answer of course is that it is yet another cost of the ‘benefits’ of the Belfast Agreement.

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  7. Pete Baker (profile) says:

    Comrade & sonofstrongbow

    The severance terms of Patten is an irrelevance to the actual topic here.

    Other than being raised by Sinn Féin as a distraction.

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  8. sonofstrongbow (profile) says:

    Indeed it is Pete. However Patten is the genesis of the tale. The reason why the retired RUC officers are required within the PSNI is that any management that existed of the severance process was kack-handed at best. Too much policing experience was sacrificed to appease a narrow political agenda and that gap now needs to be filled.

    How else is the skill shortage to be addressed? Ford is correct, employment laws will protect those who it would seem are the best qualified applicants for police support jobs.

    The executive, the assembly and uncle Tom Cobley can talk till the cows come home there is no way that regulations can be framed to exclude ex-RUC that could withstand even a basic legal challenge.

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  9. Cynic2 (profile) says:

    So lets go to the next level. SF know this issue is a dead duck from the outset. Indeed they have only found time to mention it ow – 10 years after Patten. Were they asleep?

    So why beat this drum now? The only thing I can see is that either:

    1 Gerry Kelly is stupid and doesn’t see that starting a forlorn campaign makes him look weak ad ineffectual. Lets suppose that is unlikely!

    2 They really don’t have anything else to say but are totally desperate to get something in the news to counteract what’s coming out of Smithwick

    My bets on No 2

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  10. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    I repeat myself. Officers were entitled to no more than they could have earned if they had completed their careers.

    And that’s a hell of a deal. They could walk out of there, pocket the cash and then get another job – which is what a lot of them did. And it was voluntary, so if they wanted to stay on they could.

    In fact it could be argued that officers taking early retirement were worse off given that they could not benefit from incremental pay rises that they could have had if they had continued in service.

    It sure could be argued that way, but given that they were not compelled to take early retirement, what does it matter ?

    And how often did this really happen .. if someone is 45 and still Constable would incremental raises really have amounted to much ? And if they were up at the higher grades they were still quids in.

    I know one, now living overseas and running his own security consultancy, who is undoubtably now a millionaire.

    Sounds like Gerry Kelly was right to me.

    But yes, this is a dead duck. Patten was interviewed shortly before his report was even released. He said that the government would have to dig deeply in order to fund the proposals. This was well understood at the time.

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  11. sonofstrongbow (profile) says:

    CS,

    I could ask a retired peeler of my acquaintance to bung you a few quid if you’re feeling hard done by. I expect he uses £20s to light his cigars so he’ll not miss it.

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