NI Justice Minister: “It is important to note that, in setting some minimum standards, I am not prohibiting the Board from adding to these minimum criteria…”

10 views

Whilst Brian may regard them as “surely sensible” changes to the criteria for the next Chief Constable, and they may well be, as I mentioned in updates to a previous post, no sooner had the Northern Ireland Justice Minister, the Alliance Party’s David Ford, announced those changes than the NI First and deputy First Ministers promptly agreed to exercise their prerogative to call his decision into the dysfunctional NI Executive semi-detached polit-bureau  [Where it will be put to the sword... - Ed].

By this morning, as the BBC report, the NI Justice Minister was being attacked as a “little Nero” by the DUP’s Jonathan Craig, and for “[attempting] a solo run” by Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly.

Still, at least by agreeing, this time, those two parties have avoided another costly visit to the High Court…  Although the SDLP’s Dolores Kelly has accused the NI First and deputy First Ministers of “a dangerous precedent of political interference in policing” – “It is more worrying, however, that the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister believe they can interfere in policy making decisions of the Policing Board.”

ANYhoo…  According to Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly

Speaking today Mr Kelly said:  “David Ford’s unilateral decision to  change the recruitment criteria for the  position of Chief constable is unwelcome and ill-timed.

“He has  taken this decision without seeking the agreement of the Executive or  indeed the Policing Board whose responsibility it is to recruit to this position.”

But it’s worth noting the detail from the NI Justice Minister’s initial press release

David Ford said: “In light of changes to appointment procedures and requirements elsewhere in policing, during the second half of 2013, I sought the views of the Policing Board, the PSNI and other key stakeholders with regard to the criteria when appointing a new Chief Constable in Northern Ireland. This is part of an ongoing review of police terms and conditions in the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

“I have decided to remove the mandatory requirement that the Chief Constable must have served as (at least) an Assistant Chief Constable for two years elsewhere, but that such experience should be retained as a desirable criteria for the Policing Board when appointing a new Chief Constable. I have also added the mandatory requirement that the successful candidate will have successfully completed the Strategic Command Course (or an equivalent).

I considered it important to ensure the criteria allows for as wide a pool of candidates as possible. It is however for the Policing Board to consider the experiences of those involved and whether they consider applicants to be suitably qualified.”

David Ford continued: “It is important to note that, in setting some minimum standards, I am not prohibiting the Board from adding to these minimum criteria as they consider the skills, experience and competencies required of a new Chief Constable.” [added emphasis throughout]

[They can still sack the Justice Minister! Ed]  For now.  But they’d need to agree a replacement first, and they’d need to hurry up…

Adds  The subject of the proposed changes to the criteria for the appointment of a new Chief Constable was the focus of most of the topical questions to the NI Justice Minister in the Assembly today.  Here are the relevant parts of the exchanges from Hansard.

1. Mr Brady asked the Minister of Justice to comment on his intervention to change the legislative stipulation on the criteria for the appointment of a new Chief Constable and whether he thinks that it is appropriate to do so as he did not discuss it with the Policing Board, and to outline the implications of his intervention now that the First Minister and deputy First Minister have forced him to take it to the Executive. (AQT 621/11-15)

[...]

Mr Ford: I am sure that Mr Brady’s comments will be picked up by his colleagues if I fail to answer them adequately at this stage.  I must, first of all, correct his suggestion that I did not consult the Policing Board.  The Policing Board raised the issue with me in May last year.

Given the significant interest in this issue over the past 24 hours, I hope, Mr Principal Deputy Speaker, that you will allow me to take a little longer than I usually take to answer questions to set out my position, because it is important that the issues are properly understood and that debate and comments are informed by the facts.  I fear that we have heard a number of public comments reflecting a lack of understanding about the process and the implications of my decision.

The post of Chief Constable is a vital one, and my sole intention has been to ensure that the process for appointing a Chief Constable is governed by fairness, common sense and equality.  I have no agenda beyond that.  Indeed, my decision gives me as Minister less control over the process and gives the Policing Board more control.  It might be helpful if I outline, first of all, my powers in this area, which are set out in regulation 11 of the Police Service of Northern Ireland Regulations 2005.  The regulation states:

“no person shall be appointed as Chief Constable of the police service unless he holds or has held such rank, in such force and for such period,”

— as the Minister —

“shall determine in respect of such an appointment.”

I have made clear my intention to change the arrangements.  A determination by me would issue in accordance with regulation 46 of the 2005 regulations.  No other legislative process is required, so the decision will not delay the process of appointment.

It is also essential to understand the board’s role and, indeed, primacy in the appointment of a Chief Constable, which is enshrined in section 35 of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000.  The section clearly states:

“The Board shall, subject to the approval of”

— the Minister —

“appoint the Chief Constable.”

My intentions are aimed solely at enabling the board to have more latitude, and I remain entirely respectful of the board’s primacy.

Let me summarise how the matter has been dealt with.  Criteria for the appointment of a Chief Constable in England and Wales were amended in 2012 to remove the criterion relating to experience gained outside the current force.  In May 2013, the Policing Board made contact with my Department to ask that the matter be raised with me, pointing out concerns about the current arrangements.  I was clear in my response that I wished to know what level of support changes might receive from the board.

As required by legislation, and to take the issue forward, I launched a wider consultation exercise, going beyond the bodies that I am required to consult.  I consulted the Police Advisory Board for Northern Ireland, on which the Policing Board, the Chief Constable and staff associations are represented.  I also sought the view of the Equality Commission and the Justice Committee.

It has become clear from correspondence with the Policing Board and from the Justice Committee appearance that agreed positions have not been reached.  It falls to me, therefore, in accordance with my powers in the Regulations, to reach a view and issue a determination.  I announced yesterday my intentions and I welcome the opportunity to set out now the benefits of the changes.

[...]

Mr Ford: As things stand, and as originally pointed out by the Policing Board in May 2013, it may be anomalous to retain a provision that is no longer applicable in other forces.  Specifically, the requirement for two years’ service outside Northern Ireland may impact unfairly on certain groups; for example, females or those with dependants or a disability.  The Equality Commission tends to the view that the provision could constitute indirect discrimination.  I am keen, therefore, that we remove any such unnecessary barriers to the widest and fairest candidate pool, while retaining the board’s power to decide itself on the best criteria.

This is not a question of balance.  It is perfectly possible, in my view, to achieve both aims, simply by removing the current mandatory requirement for service outside Northern Ireland.  I am asking the board to consider outside service to be desirable, as a minimum, but not essential.  It is then entirely open for the board to decide whether that outside service is essential in the forthcoming competition.

In summary, my intention is to further empower the board to define its requirements for Chief Constable.

I am aware that there has been some comment to the effect that I have intervened in the middle of a recruitment process.  Mr Brady made that point, but that is not my intention and nor has it been the case.  The board is at the earliest stage of responding to Matt Baggott’s recent decision, and the recruitment process is absolutely not under way.  I hope that all involved can at least agree the changes that I intend to make as that will clearly aid the board in constructing and delivering its own way forward.

I am grateful for this opportunity.

[...]

3. Mr Dallat asked the Minister of Justice whether he can give an assurance that he is in control, given that he will be aware that the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister has now intervened in the affairs of the Minister of the Environment and the Minister for Regional Development. (AQT 623/11-15)

I am sure that the Minister will forgive me for returning to the subject of the first question.

Mr Ford: I thank Mr Dallat for the question.  The issue is related to the power of the First Minister and deputy First Minister to call in procedures to the full Executive and the proportionality of their doing that.

I am absolutely certain that my decision was correct.  It was appropriate, proportionate and has not created the difficulties that were highlighted by a number of people who were ill informed about the circumstances.  On that basis, I would be very happy to go to the Executive meeting on Thursday to explain for the benefit of Ministers the details of what has been done, why it is appropriate and why it is my role as Justice Minister to carry that out.  I will also be putting that explanation in an Executive paper over the next day or so.

Mr Dallat: I thank the Minister for his answer.  When he goes to the Executive, will he explain to them in the impassioned way that he can that an awful lot has been done to take politics out of policing?  Now that we are back in the quagmire, will he do everything that he can to minimise the damage that has been done by this row?

Mr Ford: I thank Mr Dallat for making the point.  I certainly have no intention of creating any damage to policing through this row.  I did not start it; I carried out my statutory duties in a way that was entirely appropriate in order to enhance the role of the board in carrying out its statutory duties.  I will certainly explain that to the Executive.  I am not sure that I will do it in an “impassioned” way, as he described; I will explain it in as level and straightforward a way as I can, as indeed the Principal Deputy Speaker allowed me to do in the House just now.  We will see how other Ministers respond when presented with the facts rather than some of the ill-informed comments that we have heard recently.

[...]

6. Mrs Cameron asked the Minister of Justice whether he thought it was appropriate not to bring the significant and controversial issue of the changing of the requirement regarding the appointment of the Chief Constable to the Executive and whether he will accept the Executive’s decision on the matter. (AQT 626/11-15)

Mr Ford: It was a narrowing of my role to enhance that of the Policing Board.  Making a very modest change — the changing of a particular criterion from “essential” to “desirable” — is not, in my opinion, relevant for referral to the Executive.  It is not controversial, except in the minds of some people recently; it is not a cross-cutting issue; and it is a matter that, in statute, is clearly the responsibility of the Minister of Justice.

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  • http://www.andyboal.co.uk AndyB

    I fear that this is yet another example of the DUP not wanting to be anything like Great Britain, which dispensed with the requirement for a candidate for Chief Constable to have served in another force in 2012.

    In any case, it won’t make a very great difference. Unless there is a very small number of applicants, those without the two years’ external experience are unlikely to be shortlisted.

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    Necessarily changing the rules in any walk of life benefits someone and damages someone else.
    For example a change of rule about a rugby scrum, will benefit the way one team plays.
    A change in the rule in Gaelic Football will benefit the way another team plays.

    We can all agree that all kinds of rules need tightened and refreshed every so often. But it would be worrying if the Rugby Board or GAA announced radical rule changes on the morning of the Rugby World Cup or the All Ireland Final.
    So changing the rules about the appointment of a Chief Constable when one has just resigned has the appearance of favouring a certain TYPE of candidate, if not an ACTUAL candidate.
    The proof of that particular pudding will be in whether the New Man or New Woman owes the appointment to “new rules”.
    It would surely have been less suspicious if Ford had simply announced a change of rules for the next-but-one appointment.

    In fairness to Ford, its probably not really his idea.
    More likely from within his Department.
    Surely there are people inside the Justice Department charged with monitoring the progress and otherwise of senior police persons in Britain, Norn Iron and possibly further afield.
    It would be merely doing their job to have a “favoured” candidate.
    Whether the new Chief Constable is indebted to senior officials at the Dept of Justice and more biddable as a result remains to be seen.
    For once I wouldn’t blame Ford, now well into his sixties.
    The Dept of Justice officials and Chief Constable will be around long after Ford is in retirement.

  • Brian Walker

    Words almost fail me. The appointment of a new Chief Constable should have come before the Executive to sign off. That’s what would happen in a normal cabinet in a small jurisdiction. Why did David Ford go it alone? He did consult; why not with FMDFM who were bound to be keenly interested? Had he grounds for thinking that FMDFM would be content to leave the consultation up to him and then they went back on it when the backbenches erupted? We should be told. Does anyone know the inside story yet?

  • Morpheus

    I completely disagree with the decision to change the criteria – it looks very much like there is a candidate in mind and now there are changes to the criteria to ensure that any obstacles are removed. Without the changes would there really be a lack of qualified, willing candidates for a job which pays £190k a year and usually ends with a ‘Sir’ added to your name at the end of your stint?

    That said, in an age when everyone becomes a movie director after a trip to The Carphone Warehouse it’s a difficult time for policing.

  • Dec

    Alex Attwoods statement would appear to back up Gerry Kelly’ version of events:

    “It is not only the Minister for Justice, David Ford who is out of order on this issue. It is also the First Minister Peter Robinson and the deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. Each and all of them are usurping the role of the Policing Board.

    “The authority of the Policing Board must be jealously guarded. Patten made that abundantly clear.

    It is for the Board to have the lead and primary role when it comes to the criteria of the appointment of senior police officers. That is the way it was during the life of the first Policing Board. That is the way it should be.

    “The action of the Minister for Justice is a challenge to the authority of the Policing Board. However, it compounds the error for the issue to now be called into the Executive. To do so means a precedent is established. The precedent is that matters that are the responsibility of the Policing Board end up being matters decided by the Executive. That is not what Patten intended. That is not good for policing. That is bad for politics.

    “David Ford should withdraw his decision. The First and deputy First Minister should withdraw calling the matter into the Executive. All three should say that this is a matter for the Policing Board. Anything else muddles Patten, policing and politics. This is a crucial moment – is the authority of the Board recognised or it is not? David Ford, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness may seek to build their respective empires and usurp the Board. They are all out of order. They should all back off.”

  • Dec

    ‘Still, at least by agreeing, this time, those two parties have avoided another costly visit to the High Court’

    Fair point, Pete. Because you’ve been all over Edwin Poots’ costly (and repeated) visits to the High Court, haven’t you?

  • cynic2

    Clearly there are attempts to skew the possess towards specific candidates. So much for taking the politics out of poilicing

  • Son of Strongbow

    David Ford cuts a rather unlikely figure as a Blofeld-like conspiratorial mastermind. Perhaps he substitutes his beard for a white cat when he feels in need of an evil-pondering stroke?

    Or maybe he’s just another innocent local politician manipulated on the strings held by malevolent shadowy civil servants working to some hidden ‘Brit’ agenda?

    Surely it can’t be long before ‘securocrat’ makes a reappearance in the local political lexicon?

    Or perhaps as Minister for Justice he considers it his responsibility to contribute to the rules and regulations of a central element responsible for the delivery of his department’s remit; i.e. the police?

    Ford’s intervention is not in anyway a diminution of the Policing Board’s role. The Board is legally responsible for the “appointment” of the CC, and other Chief Officers. Ford has not involved himself in the appointment process. He has, as he is entitled to as Justice Minister, added his views as Minister.

    And it’s not like this should have come as a surprise the Justice Department has been clear on its involvement in a process of review of policing in response to changes in GB. Department officials have been questioned by the Justice Committee at Stormont on these very issues.

    However I may be wrong and perhaps others will now identify who they think are the Justice Department’s placemen in the PSNI?

  • sherdy

    There are certain standards for prospective candidates for the post of chief constable.
    David Ford said he is introducing minimum standards, but there is nothing to prevent the policing board from maintaining the higher standards.
    So what’s the point of his intervention?
    It reads as: ‘I’m lowering standards but you stick to your higher standards if you want.’

  • Pete Baker

    Adds The subject of the proposed changes to the criteria for the appointment of a new Chief Constable was the focus of most of the topical questions to the NI Justice Minister in the Assembly today. Here are the relevant parts of the exchanges from Hansard.

    1. Mr Brady asked the Minister of Justice to comment on his intervention to change the legislative stipulation on the criteria for the appointment of a new Chief Constable and whether he thinks that it is appropriate to do so as he did not discuss it with the Policing Board, and to outline the implications of his intervention now that the First Minister and deputy First Minister have forced him to take it to the Executive. (AQT 621/11-15)

    [...]

    Mr Ford: I am sure that Mr Brady’s comments will be picked up by his colleagues if I fail to answer them adequately at this stage. I must, first of all, correct his suggestion that I did not consult the Policing Board. The Policing Board raised the issue with me in May last year.

    Given the significant interest in this issue over the past 24 hours, I hope, Mr Principal Deputy Speaker, that you will allow me to take a little longer than I usually take to answer questions to set out my position, because it is important that the issues are properly understood and that debate and comments are informed by the facts. I fear that we have heard a number of public comments reflecting a lack of understanding about the process and the implications of my decision.

    The post of Chief Constable is a vital one, and my sole intention has been to ensure that the process for appointing a Chief Constable is governed by fairness, common sense and equality. I have no agenda beyond that. Indeed, my decision gives me as Minister less control over the process and gives the Policing Board more control. It might be helpful if I outline, first of all, my powers in this area, which are set out in regulation 11 of the Police Service of Northern Ireland Regulations 2005. The regulation states:

    “no person shall be appointed as Chief Constable of the police service unless he holds or has held such rank, in such force and for such period,”

    — as the Minister —

    “shall determine in respect of such an appointment.”

    I have made clear my intention to change the arrangements. A determination by me would issue in accordance with regulation 46 of the 2005 regulations. No other legislative process is required, so the decision will not delay the process of appointment.

    It is also essential to understand the board’s role and, indeed, primacy in the appointment of a Chief Constable, which is enshrined in section 35 of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000. The section clearly states:

    “The Board shall, subject to the approval of”

    — the Minister —

    “appoint the Chief Constable.”

    My intentions are aimed solely at enabling the board to have more latitude, and I remain entirely respectful of the board’s primacy.

    Let me summarise how the matter has been dealt with. Criteria for the appointment of a Chief Constable in England and Wales were amended in 2012 to remove the criterion relating to experience gained outside the current force. In May 2013, the Policing Board made contact with my Department to ask that the matter be raised with me, pointing out concerns about the current arrangements. I was clear in my response that I wished to know what level of support changes might receive from the board.

    As required by legislation, and to take the issue forward, I launched a wider consultation exercise, going beyond the bodies that I am required to consult. I consulted the Police Advisory Board for Northern Ireland, on which the Policing Board, the Chief Constable and staff associations are represented. I also sought the view of the Equality Commission and the Justice Committee.

    It has become clear from correspondence with the Policing Board and from the Justice Committee appearance that agreed positions have not been reached. It falls to me, therefore, in accordance with my powers in the Regulations, to reach a view and issue a determination. I announced yesterday my intentions and I welcome the opportunity to set out now the benefits of the changes.

    [...]

    Mr Ford: As things stand, and as originally pointed out by the Policing Board in May 2013, it may be anomalous to retain a provision that is no longer applicable in other forces. Specifically, the requirement for two years’ service outside Northern Ireland may impact unfairly on certain groups; for example, females or those with dependants or a disability. The Equality Commission tends to the view that the provision could constitute indirect discrimination. I am keen, therefore, that we remove any such unnecessary barriers to the widest and fairest candidate pool, while retaining the board’s power to decide itself on the best criteria.

    This is not a question of balance. It is perfectly possible, in my view, to achieve both aims, simply by removing the current mandatory requirement for service outside Northern Ireland. I am asking the board to consider outside service to be desirable, as a minimum, but not essential. It is then entirely open for the board to decide whether that outside service is essential in the forthcoming competition.

    In summary, my intention is to further empower the board to define its requirements for Chief Constable.

    I am aware that there has been some comment to the effect that I have intervened in the middle of a recruitment process. Mr Brady made that point, but that is not my intention and nor has it been the case. The board is at the earliest stage of responding to Matt Baggott’s recent decision, and the recruitment process is absolutely not under way. I hope that all involved can at least agree the changes that I intend to make as that will clearly aid the board in constructing and delivering its own way forward.

    I am grateful for this opportunity.

    [...]

    3. Mr Dallat asked the Minister of Justice whether he can give an assurance that he is in control, given that he will be aware that the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister has now intervened in the affairs of the Minister of the Environment and the Minister for Regional Development. (AQT 623/11-15)

    I am sure that the Minister will forgive me for returning to the subject of the first question.

    Mr Ford: I thank Mr Dallat for the question. The issue is related to the power of the First Minister and deputy First Minister to call in procedures to the full Executive and the proportionality of their doing that.

    I am absolutely certain that my decision was correct. It was appropriate, proportionate and has not created the difficulties that were highlighted by a number of people who were ill informed about the circumstances. On that basis, I would be very happy to go to the Executive meeting on Thursday to explain for the benefit of Ministers the details of what has been done, why it is appropriate and why it is my role as Justice Minister to carry that out. I will also be putting that explanation in an Executive paper over the next day or so.

    Mr Dallat: I thank the Minister for his answer. When he goes to the Executive, will he explain to them in the impassioned way that he can that an awful lot has been done to take politics out of policing? Now that we are back in the quagmire, will he do everything that he can to minimise the damage that has been done by this row?

    Mr Ford: I thank Mr Dallat for making the point. I certainly have no intention of creating any damage to policing through this row. I did not start it; I carried out my statutory duties in a way that was entirely appropriate in order to enhance the role of the board in carrying out its statutory duties. I will certainly explain that to the Executive. I am not sure that I will do it in an “impassioned” way, as he described; I will explain it in as level and straightforward a way as I can, as indeed the Principal Deputy Speaker allowed me to do in the House just now. We will see how other Ministers respond when presented with the facts rather than some of the ill-informed comments that we have heard recently.

    [...]

    6. Mrs Cameron asked the Minister of Justice whether he thought it was appropriate not to bring the significant and controversial issue of the changing of the requirement regarding the appointment of the Chief Constable to the Executive and whether he will accept the Executive’s decision on the matter. (AQT 626/11-15)

    Mr Ford: It was a narrowing of my role to enhance that of the Policing Board. Making a very modest change — the changing of a particular criterion from “essential” to “desirable” — is not, in my opinion, relevant for referral to the Executive. It is not controversial, except in the minds of some people recently; it is not a cross-cutting issue; and it is a matter that, in statute, is clearly the responsibility of the Minister of Justice.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Dec,

    Since you are sympathetic to Gerry Kelly’s line can I ask you :

    - why are republicans so forthright in opposing the locally elected justice minister rolling back a provision previously imposed by the British Secretary of State ?

    - why are republicans apparently intentionally ignoring the fact that removing restrictions from the Department of Justice gives the Police Board more – not less – freedom in establishing its own criteria for selection of the Chief Constable ?

    The reaction of the SDLP and DUP can be put down to cynical electioneering, but I am genuinely at a loss to understand why SF in particular are so upset about this. The Police Board’s decision has not been impacted, the Board cannot even have begun the process of shortlisting the candidates yet given that the vacancy was only announced a week ago. In exactly what way is Ford’s intervention an interference ? I would grant you if he *imposed* new restrictions. But he didn’t.

  • Neil

    I reckon it’s because it increases the likelihood of a former RUC CC.

  • Neil

    Sorry, I’ll rephrase that:

    I reckon it’s because it increases the likelihood of a former RUC being appointed CC.

  • BluesJazz

    Neil. the RUC and PSNI are de facto the same organization. Just as the UDR morphed into the (present day) RIR.
    Windscale was renamed Sellafield, but it still does the same job.

    Your point is?

  • Neil

    Yer right there. My point is that’s what I think the shinner’s problem is.

  • Gopher

    In a normal government it would not have been a problem but because we have no opposition it’s a farce. The SDLP were the funniest today “it was everyone’s fault”. Alliance the SDLP and UUP are a joke for continuing to sit in the executive. In the name of god (whoevers) get out.

  • Charles_Gould

    David Ford has public opinion on his side. Winner for Alliance.

    Ford should threaten to storm out of the Executive if he is overruled.

  • Charles_Gould

    Well done Ford – great drama, showing you’re relevant etc. Good politics.

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    Alliance are bought and paid for.
    They wont be doing anything principled any time soon.

  • Morpheus

    Cs, I would guess that the shinners have a problem with changing the rules in the middle of a game so a new player can play. And they are right to do so

  • Comrade Stalin

    Neil,

    Yer right there. My point is that’s what I think the shinner’s problem is.

    If the Shinners are arguing that they’d prefer a British policeman with no operational experience of Northern Ireland then it seems to me that their republicanism is broken.

    SF already have a veto through the Police Board and can stop the appointment of anyone they like. Ford’s decision changes none of that. Of course as Ford noted he himself has a veto over the appointment (having inherited that power from the Secretary of State); but I very much doubt he will exercise it.

    Morpheus,

    For a start, the game hasn’t started yet, a week ago we didn’t even know there was a vacancy. Secondly the process of consultation on this matter began six months ago. And thirdly, the decision can have no effect other than to widen, rather than reduce, the pool of available candidates for the Police Board to select from. I have no idea why anyone thinks that the goalposts have been moved.

    FJH,

    If Alliance are some sort of clients of SF and the DUP this turn of events must be particularly curious.

  • Morpheus

    The game started when the PSNI was formed and the rules were carefully created then to ensure that everyone bought in – those rules are now being changed regardless if Baggott announced his intention to leave last week or had no intentions of leaving.

  • Gopher

    Memo to David Ford and Alliance Party. Please not that every single thing you do is the beginning of a negotiating position for SF ( no freebies there) so whatever peoples opinion on the flag changing its protocol for free was bloody stupid (has that sunk in yet)

  • cynic2

    “my sole intention has been to ensure that the process for appointing a Chief Constable is governed by fairness, common sense and equality”

    Which is why i did it now thereby giving the clear impression that i was favouring one or more candidate over others and also after the Deputy Chief Constable had resigned citing this as a factor.

    I thereby managed the coup of both excluding the only female candidate and appearing to undermine the process and uniting everyone else in opposition. This builds on the evident success of our Flegs policy in 2013 in demonstrating my dynamic leadership

    ” My intentions are aimed solely at enabling the board to have more latitude, and I remain entirely respectful of the board’s primacy.”

    Which is why i left it for them to find out that i was doing it via the BBC and why I did it in the middle of a process without them asking me, too late to save the most senior candidate and the only female candidate.

    “I am aware that there has been some comment to the effect that I have intervened in the middle of a recruitment process ……. but that is not my intention and nor has it been the case. ”

    To those who challenge this as mere disingenuous twaddle I will reply in detail at some unspecified point in the future

    ” It is not controversial, except in the minds of some people recently”

    including the SDLP, DUP and Sinn Fein as well as various public and media commendations – indeed everyone but me and the party members planing these set up questions to help me out of this hole

  • cynic2

    “For a start, the game hasn’t started yet,”

    Nonsense. If you change the rules as soon as it becomes clear a competition is on and do so in a way that may skew the pool you are interfering in the process.

    If it had no impact why did he do it?

  • cynic2

    “David Ford cuts a rather unlikely figure as a Blofeld-like conspiratorial mastermind. Perhaps he substitutes his beard for a white cat when he feels in need of an evil-pondering stroke?”

    Or he is stroked by officials with agendas?

  • cynic2

    “Ford should threaten to storm out …”

    …..of the salary, pension and Ministerial car ………aye …..right. Time enough for the electorate to deal with that at the next election

  • Son of Strongbow

    There’s obviously an opening locally for yet another quango.

    A ‘Conspiracy Commission’ or an ‘Agendas’ Agency’ could surely become the go-to place for those of that bent to register their own conjured ignis fatuus.

    All it would take would be to fill out the Paranoia 11/1 and the quangoistas would do the rest.

  • Granni Trixie

    It says everything that Sluggerites do not get it:the two year “essential” criteria is likely to impact unfairly on women (because of their traditional caring role). Making it “desirable” does not
    Make it exactly a level playing field for women but it does advance towards equality.

  • Comrade Stalin

    There’s an awful lot of patent nonsense being talked here by people who should know better.

    cynic:

    Which is why i did it now thereby giving the clear impression that i was favouring one or more candidate over others and also after the Deputy Chief Constable had resigned citing this as a factor.

    But the Deputy Chief Constable refused to take her (generous) Patten retirement package when the Chief Constable restrictions were in place. It is hard to see why she would have done this if she did not anticipate that the criteria would be relaxed in the future in time for her to make an application. It therefore seems likely that she had other reasons for deciding to resign.

    It’s quite ridiculous to say that slackening the minimum criteria predetermines the outcome. The outcome isn’t predetermined by Ford or the NI Executive at all. It is determined by the Police Board.

    Nonsense. If you change the rules as soon as it becomes clear a competition is on and do so in a way that may skew the pool you are interfering in the process.

    But it doesn’t “skew” the pool. It does nothing other than enlarge it. If anything it un-skewed the pool, moving a restriction which for the past number of years has been widely seen as ineffective – especially not if this restriction is what led to the selection of what turns out to have been an unsatisfactory Chief Constable.

    You guys really are desperately clutching at straws here. The recruitment process is carried out and managed by the Police Board who can specify their own criteria as they see fit. Not one potential candidate the board may be considering or may consider in the future will be excluded as a consequence of this change.

    I can’t get my head around the idea that the minister should have acted to protect the Police Board’s independence by refusing to change the most restrictive part of the selection criteria. The mind boggles.

  • DC

    It looks as though David Ford wrote up some nice ideas while inside his DoJ ‘silo’ and then decided to do a solo run on this.

    On the face of it the idea is worthy of consideration but shouldn’t he have at least taken it to the executive for discussion than to the media and then all hell breaking out?

    So much for Alliance doing joined up consensus government you guys really are as bad as the others up at Stormont.

    Then we have the con artist trick of Naomi Long voting at Westminster against universal credit / welfare reform – knowing her vote wouldn’t change a thing in reality – only for her Stromont MLAs to accept universal credit / welfare reform pretty much wholeheartedly – surely the logical thing to do is to resist where you can and that includes Stormont as much as Westminster?

    Having it both ways again on welfare reform – no at Westminster but yes to it at Stormont, pretending to be Unionists when writing in the News Letter then siding with Nationalists at Belfast Council!

    You guys are playing with fire!

  • Comrade Stalin

    DC,

    Firstly, as has been explained several times now, this matter has been under discussion since last May and OFMDFM were informed about it at the time.

    Secondly, Westminster is the only place where welfare reform can be stopped. Because of the parity agreement, voting against the welfare arrangements means ending parity and correspondingly a significant cut in the block grant.

    You don’t know what you’re talking about, so you’re just spitballing. I get it.

  • Son of Strongbow

    The PSNI ‘Top Team’ numbers a handful of people (and that small group reduced in size even further with one member having been on ‘gardening leave’ for a long time).

    It is a nonsense to suggest that the Justice Minister’s announcement came to the Top Cops out of the blue. Even if you argue that the exact detail of Ford’s thinking was not known to them the facts are that the CC’s position had been part of discussions within the Justice Department. Discussions that had been shared both with the police and MLAs.

    If the police at the top of the PSNI let all this pass them by, well that would say quite a lot about their detective abilities if nothing else.

    The current CC and DCC have a close working relationship and it is inconceivable that the CC did not mention his plans for his own future to her, as she no doubt did to him about her own intentions.

    If the DCC had wanted to hold on to apply for the top job she could have. She did not want to do so. Her gender or any mythical PSNI glass ceiling played no part in that decision.

  • IrelandNorth

    The unemployed often complain that they can’t get a job because they’ve no experience. And they can’t get experience because they’ve no job. Somewhat of a chicken and egg conundrum. Yet, like solutions to the most complicated problems, the answer is relatively straighforward. David Ford should get on to his southern counterpart Alan Shatter, and suggest that current Deputy Assistant Chief Constable (DACC) of the the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), Judith Gillespie, be considered for the position of Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Án Gárda Síochána na h’Éireann (ÁGSÉ) for the requisite period to qualify her as PSNI/CC. Matt Baggot’s successor could be contracted for two years. Then if DACC/DC Gillespie wished to head up ÁGSÉ, Commissioner Callanan may have retired in the intervening years. The Commissioners current deputy might equally be seconded to the PSNI for like period. This would not only be good for gender equality, but would go a long way to challenge patriarchal culture in both police forces on the Island.

  • cynic2

    “The current CC and DCC have a close working relationship and it is inconceivable that the CC did not mention his plans for his own future to her, as she no doubt did to him about her own intentions.”

    You are assuming that the Pastor’s intentions on the renewal of his contract and the DDCs view on her suitability for promotion coincided with the Policing Board’s assessment on both counts. Was that the case? What REALLY went on behind the scenes?

    I agree that you would expect them both to take soundings on the top jobs and contract renewals. So what then happened? As the Board is rigged politically (sorry balanced in the name of the community) both of them needed SF and DUP support to get their contracts extended.

    Did Flegs do for both of them, for example? Were both parties (or any of them) willing to renew their contracts example?

    Did they arrest too many Prods or not enough? And if they were both effectively given a push out the door what does that say about political interference in policing?

  • Son of Strongbow

    What “REALLY went on behind the scenes” could be pondered upon from now to doomsday. However some facts should be borne in mind. All candidates for the top jobs will have feedback on their application/interview(s) provided to them by the PB should they ask for it.

    I would expect that such feedback would be scrutinised by each unsuccessful candidate to establish the reasons why they were not deemed suitable.

    Even if dodgy reasons were ‘hidden’ between the lines it would not be too difficult to discern; and anyway I’m sure some board members would leak the info to damage their own political enemies on the board.

    The Deputy Chief Constable (DCC – there is no “DACC rank) , had no intention to apply for the top job. Trying to imply or spin it that she was disadvantaged by the process is just that:spin (and political spin at that in trying to damage David Ford).

    It is of course quite correct to note the political dimension in local policing. It may not amount to significant “interference” per se in the day to day operations of the police (ignoring North Belfast Land Rover surfing for the moment) but the political grandstanding that characterises the machinations of the PB does damage the police.

    The very fact that the operational decisions of the police are hyped in such partisan fashion; for example, ‘too many’ arrests of ‘peaceful’ [sic] Loyalist protestors equals the whole ethos of the PSNI now being nationalist, or ‘too few’ such arrests equalling the police being in the pockets of Loyalist terrorists, clearly illustrates the negative impact on the PSNI’s reputation caused by politicians attempting to kick it to and fro.