McAleese clan leads the way in PSNI

I picked up a little testiness in some of the recent comments, and the idea of the Queen’s podcast becoming the Slugger testcard spurred me to blog! Mary McAleese was interviewed by RTE for a Christmas broadcast and interestingly mentioned that some of her ‘clan’ have joined the PSNI and have played Gaelic football with them. Liam Clarke picked up the story in the Sunday Times and quoted a presidential spokesperson that there ‘was nothing political in the presidents decision to refer to them. Indeed. Update: Article from Irish TimesI know that when I heard the interview it was the first thing that came into my mind, and it seemed like a very deliberate comment designed to bestow an imprimatur of sorts on joining the PSNI. I read something earlier today that indicated that 70 catholics have left the PSNI since the new recruiting measures were introduced. The main reasons cited were failure to meet the standards, pressure from family and in some cases as a result of a security warning following paramilitary threats. There’s a better breakdown of figures over at debate central.

  • BP1078

    From the UTV report>

    Just under 4% of those signed up have left, a total of 99 when non-Catholics are included.

    Jane Winter, from the British/Irish Rights Watch pressure group, claimed the 72 drop-outs damaged community confidence in the police.

    A form of positive discrimination known as 50/50 recruitment has been adopted by the Police Service of Northern Ireland to ensure half those chosen are Catholic.

    There were 44 student officers and 31 constables who dropped out

    Er… that makes 75 not 72 who’ve dropped out, doesn’t it?

    Not to worry, if my mathmatics is correct, that means there has been a 5.8% drop out rate amongst Catholic recruits. Difficult to say without comparitive figures from other forces, but bearing in mind the history of the police force in NI and other “cultural” factors that doesn’t seem that unreasonable a figure to me.

    Also, you would have thought with the amount of bureacracy now involved in ensuring that all sectors of the community have a fair chance to progress within the PSNI, a more accurate breakdown of reasons why people have left would have been available.

    Bit of a non-story to fill in the quiet period??
    (Or to prevent The Baked Bean from continuing to reign over Slugger;))

  • Wilde Rover

    It is appropriate that Uachtaran na hEireann has decided to share this news with her people during the festive season.

    With decommissioning complete the First Citizen has given the people of Ireland a timely reminder of the need to finish the final piece of the puzzle: the transformation of the military wing of Unionism into a modern European police force.

  • dalek

    I know this doesn’t really add to the debate but I do know one of the student officers that dropped out and can only cite her reasons.

    She was from a mixed community background and IMHO would have made a good officer. she joined perhaps for slightly idealistic reasons and because the money is good.

    However she lived just west of the Bann and got a word in her ear from her superiors in the PSNI that a known Republican who lived close by was watching her and that she should be careful about who she associated with and should be careful about her movements.

    This freaked her out completely and she resigned within the week.

    Was the threat real? Or are senior members of the former RUC trying to scare off some of the new officers by pretending they are under threat?

    A fairly underhand tactic to undermine the 50/50 recruitment perhaps?

    Just a thought……..

  • mmm

    And have any of her family ever joined the IRA? I couldn’t possibly comment.

  • miss fitz

    Dalek
    Obviously I cant comment on that case, but it seems fairly unlikely that one comment ‘in the ear’ of someone is going to make them resign. Indeed, it’s pretty obvious that all of the catholic recruits will come in for some level of scrutiny, but I would have thought that the correct response would have been increased security or a move to a more secure location. I speak from experience and I know how unsettling it is to be under a perceived threat, but running or quitting is never the answer.

    The catholic recruits of today represent the thin edge of the wedge, and until there is a widespread acceptance of this rule of law, there will always be a threat of some level toward them.

  • Harry

    Thin end of the wedge my arse. Ten years of smoke and mirrors and at the end – nothing.

    British law for an Irish people…you suggest that’s an acceptable outcome? Balls.

  • dalek

    Miss Fitz

    Let it be said that I normally agree with you and that you are one of the more imaginative posters on here…..BUT

    Your retort to my comment was a load of steaming doggie do.

    1. You said that one word in the ear of a trainee would not be enough to make them resign. Wrong! It was and it happened.maybe you think its unlikely but its a fact. like it or lump it.

    2.Why should catholic recruits be subject to a different level of scrutiny to other recruits. Of course i accept that ant public servant is going to be scrutinised but surely there should not be a seperate criteria for Catholic recruits to the PSNI. Are they to be percieved as being potentially dodgy?

    3. And as regards your comment about moving to a more secure location..What the flying F are you talking about? Why should she. That was the way before the ceasefires when catholic cops had to cut their ties and move to Bangor but surely now its imperative that catholic cops live near their kith and kin!!!

    4 And as regards the thin edge of the wedge..I will be kind and say its a bit of an unfortunate piece of phraseology.

    dissapointed with you Miss Fitz.

  • sevenmagpies

    “Your retort to my comment was a load of steaming doggie do.”

    I suspect you have simply misunderstood what Miss Fitz was saying:

    1. She wasn’t speaking about that particular case but making a general point.

    2. That’s ‘scrutiny’ from republicans. The thing your friend was being advised about.

    3. Increased security or a move to a secure location. It’s not compulsory. Yes it would be great if they could live amongst the community but if they don’t feel totally safe doing that then they should have an option other than simply being forced to leave the job they chose.

    4. You don’t like the phrase “thin end of the wedge”? Not sure what you mean by that one.

  • miss fitz

    Dalek
    I think you took up one of my comments incorrectly. I wasnt suggesting that there is a different level of scrutiny for catholic recruits. I specifically said I couldnt comment on the case you mentioned, as I dont know the facts. But I have several levels of experience with this

    For 4 years, I was part of the recruiting team doing the interviews with the new recruits. I also live in a Republican area. There were certainly some issues to be addressed, but they were all done locally.

    A couple of years ago, I had to have my security reviewed for different reasons. There is a lenghty process with a couple of different agencies, and you are presented with the facts and findings. At that time, it was suggested that I might be better off living somewhere else, but after much soul searching I declined and remained where I am. You’re correct that we shouldnt be hounded from where we live, but there are times when members of law enforcement in all parts of the world determine that their safety would be more ensured by a move.

    Thats all I was saying, the idea of someome making a suggestion in an informal manner didnt sound like the real deal. And before someone quits, surely they weigh up all of the options and determine if increasing personal security is a more realistic way of proceding.

    I am in no way doubting your word or your story, I am simply saying it differs significantly from the first hand experience I have encoutnered.

    As to the thin edge of the wedge, I dont know why you object. I used the phrase as I see this as a long process, and at this point in time we have a small number of people coming forward for recruitment. There are many more behind them, but if the thin edge is out there for too long, it will snap off and as nationalists we will have bitten off our noses to spite our collective faces.

    If your friend was too terrified to remain in the Police as a result of a perceived threat from her own community, how long do you think it will be before that becomes common place and accelerated? Unless policing becomes acceptable and supported this whole process will have been a farce.

  • dalek

    seven magpies:

    yes I might be a little idealistic in hoping that given 10 years have passed since the ceasefire that people from a perceived catholic background might be able to live amongst there own given that sinn fein are about to sign up to policing. Something which I support by the way.

    Miss fitz:

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply and i didn’t realise you were part of the selection process which was particularly brave of you given the pretty wee place in south down where you live.

    As far as a “suggestion in an informal manner” is concerned i can assure you it was not informal but not in writing. my concern was that these kind of passing on of alleged threats was an attempt by serving cops to scare off new recruits from a particular community background. i was not suggesting that no threat exists in some cases fron republicans.

    And by the way i fully support the idea of of a representative police service unrestrained by the old special branch or M15 serving the community as a whole.

    Awaiting the Lá when that tiochaidhs!!!

  • miss fitz

    Dalek
    Glad we cleared all that up. By the way, the point you are making is hinted at on debate central. Someone there made the point that threats from Republicans to leave the service is quite different from the time that fellow officers put pressure on you to leave the force.

    I take your point, and to be honest I think its a good one. What it should infer in an open and transparent service is that all threats are assessed and recorded to establish if there is a pattern emerging. For whatever reason, I have always maintained that the only way to break the corruptive practices that were commonplace in the police force was to lead from within. Of course, that cannot be done without objective oversight which is the Policing Board.

    One point not really made is that no matter what job it is, there will always be a level of early wastage. Someone clever ought to try and compare these figures to other agencies, maybe the Met or some other police body. Perhaps 4-5% is common? If not, then we really have some questions to be answered,.

  • Harry

    Yes let’s compare it to the Met. It’s only natural after all.

  • dalek

    Miss fitz

    I do agree that the best way to deal with the corruption of the past is to deal with it from within.

    as far as the figures go..I dont know whether 4 or 5% is significant or not and whether it is comparative to other police services or other occupations.

    What is more important is that there should be an an analysis of the reasons for all those early exits to establish whether there are certain trends and then to put policies in place to redress whatever comes to light. And if nothing comes to light then at least there will have been transparency.

  • BP1078

    as far as the figures go..I dont know whether 4 or 5% is significant or not and whether it is comparative to other police services or other occupations.

    What is more important is that there should be an an analysis of the reasons for all those early exits to establish whether there are certain trends and then to put policies in place to redress whatever comes to light. And if nothing comes to light then at least there will have been transparency.

    I think those were the two points I made… about seven hours ago.

    Without comparitive statistics, throwing these kinds of figures about is meaningless. If the business I’m in only had a 6% dropout of new recruits, the managers would be lining themselves up for a nice bonus.

  • Miss Fitz

    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2006-03-23b.350.4

    Well, this is a random result from Google, taken from Hansard. Baroness Scotland of Asthal says that ‘The wastage is lower for women than for men: it is 3.5 per cent for women and 5.7 per cent for men. Those figures compare favourably with other public services.’

    If thats the case, we can see that our figure remains in that category. What we need now is the ‘wastage’ figure for Protestant recruits.

  • Miss Fitz

    Guess I can answer that one from the original piece. http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/breaking/2006/1226/breaking7.htm

    99 recruits left the service, 72 of them were catholic, which means 27 were protestant. That leaves a big question mark to be answered then? This looks like a disproportionate number of catholics are leaving compared to other groupings.

  • dalek

    BP1078

    Yes i have repeated your point to a certain extent. The difference is that I dont think this is a non-story filler piece and that there is real merit in a detailed analysis as to why recruits of all religions leave the police service prematurely.

    And I was very glad to see that this post caused “The Baked Bean”(as you refer to her maj) to move down the slugger pecking order! She made for a very disconcerting christmas test card.

  • dalek

    Miss Fitz

    that is very interesting. Almost 73% of the leavers are from a perceived Catholic background. If I was the Chief Constable that would cause the alarm bells to ring and I would be wanting immeadiate stats on my desk as to the reasons why! The words statistically significant spring to mind.

  • BP1078

    “5.7 per cent for men. Those figures compare favourably with other public services.”

    Miss Fitz/dalek

    As you point out, the figure for Catholic dropout from the PSNI near enough ties in with the average figure for the rest of the UK. If I were an impartial(!)observer that would make me think that there is no more of a problem in the PSNI than other British police forces, which considering our peculiar circumstances I think is a pretty major achievement. And compared to other occupations, 5-6% is a very low drop-rate for new recruits to any profession.

    Yes, there is a discrepancy with the non-Catholic recruit figure-but bearing in mind, as I’ve said before, the amount of effort and bureaucracy whoch as can gone into ensuring a more balanced PSNI, I find it very hard to believe that the Chief Constable doesn’t have to hand the reasons for this discrepancy-surely recruits are asked their reasons for leaving?

    For some reason, it’s not presently politically to give a more explicit breakdown of these reasons.

  • BP1078

    Doh…last sentence should read>

    “For some reason, it’s not presently politically expedient to give a more explicit breakdown of these reasons”

  • dalek

    BP1078

    I thought that the Freedom Of Information Act put an end to such political expediencies?

  • dalek

    BP1078

    I forgot to add with reference to your last point that the PSNI is not a British Police Force.

    It is a Northern Ireland (until circumstances change) Police Service.

    subtle difference but worth noting.

  • BP1078

    I thought that the Freedom Of Information Act put an end to such political expediencies?

    This is Hain, the NIO and NuLabour we’re talking about here Dalek…

    Don’t really get your point about the British police force, I dare say if we got comparitive figures for the Gardai we’d get a similar drop out % (some fecker is bound to prove me wrong me now!)

  • Doctor Who

    Dalek

    Aside from the fact that your scenario about your “mate” is probably made up, why do you find it surprising that Republican terrorists would be gathering info on new recruits. The idea of an accountable poice force representative of the people of Northern Ireland digusts republicans, as it brings an extra piece of normality to the country.

    Why would your imaginary mate find it difficult to accept this, as far as I am aware new recruits are notified on these possibilities at training.

    Furthermore imagine if all RUC new recruits had of abandoned their carrers because of terrorist threats, we would have been left without a Police force through a very difficult time.

    Just one more reason all of us including you and punters like Harry owe an incredible debt to the memory of RUC officers who gave up their lives to protect the community.

  • dalek

    BP1078

    ” If I were an impartial(!)observer that would make me think that there is no more of a problem in the PSNI than other British police forces”

    My point was that you referred to the PSNI in such a way as to suggest that it was a British Police Force which it is not and therefore your use of the word “other” in the context of this sentence is wrong.

  • dalek

    Doctor Who

    Just a quick response to your typically cynical post.

    For what its worth and you can believe whatever you like the story is true. I can see where your coming from as regards the fact that anyone joining up should have their eyes wide open but in this case there was perhaps a certain amount of nievity about the possible repercussions.

    As far as your assertion goes as to intelligence gathering by “Republican Terrorists” I know no more than you. Why would organisations on ceasefire gather intelligence? And how many years does it take before you can be deemed a non-terrorist?

    And finally why do I have to feel a sense of debt to a police force that acted politically was drawn from largely one community, acted in a partial manner for the most part and acquiesced with loyalist paramilitaries?

    here’s to an impartial police service representative of the whole community from top to bottom!

  • BP1078

    My point was that you referred to the PSNI in such a way as to suggest that it was a British Police Force which it is not and therefore your use of the word “other” in the context of this sentence is wrong

    Technically it is a British police force whilst NI remains a part of the UK, but I think I see what you’re getting at.

    The drop-out rate is average (compared to the rest of the Uk and also prob ROI) amongst Catholic recruits. The report, basic as it is, doesn’t really gives us much substantial details as to why people, of whatever religion, drop out. My point originally was that 5-6 % drop-out rate in any profession is not that unusual- why is this then a news story?

  • dalek

    BP1078

    Surely the disproportionate amount of Catholic recruits leaving the service is newsworthy?

    And sorry to be pedantic but how can a police service operating in an area completely outside Great Britain be regarded as a British police service?

    And why do you keep using the term Police force?

  • BP1078

    Surely the disproportionate amount of Catholic recruits leaving the service is newsworthy?

    When the actual figure leaving is 5-6%?
    In the news period, between Xmas and New Year (I’ve just checked out, panda born in Beijing Zoo yesterday), yes, probably it is newsworthy.

    And sorry to be pedantic but how can a police service operating in an area completely outside Great Britain be regarded as a British police service?

    Ok. A police force working within Great Britain and Northern ireland (I really think you’re missing the point here…come back at me with the drop-out rate amongst Garda recruits, go on, surprise me).

    And why do you keep using the term Police force?
    Sigh.
    I’m off to bed.
    Happy New Year!!

  • Doctor Who

    Dalek

    “Why would organisations on ceasefire gather intelligence? And how many years does it take before you can be deemed a non-terrorist?”

    You accuse your friend of naivity then come out with such a blind statement.

    Not all Republicans agree with the current peace process, and still pose a security threat. The Provos where responsible for the murder of Denis Donaldson and the roberry at the Norhern bank, so until quite recently have been still active. They haven´t gone away you know.

    “a police force that acted politically was drawn from largely one community”

    Persumably you mean one part of the community. It is unfortunate that at certain times all police forces are used politically. We seen this more typically during the miners strikes. People like you see the RUC as political because e.g during something like the hunger strikes they opposed groups of republican thugs causing destruction to property etc.

    It has also been well established that the main reason that the RUC was drawn predominantly from the Protestant side of the community, was that Catholics faced discrimination and terror from Republicans if they joined the Police. Republicans still oppose the PSNI, they have not signed up to anything yet and will not do so ubtil they receive another concession detrimental to Unionists.

    I think another reason that the selection process for the PSNI is not totally successful is that Nationalists where sold the lie from Sinn Fein that the end of the IRA campaign meant that they had won and that the “British presence in Ireland was coming to an end”. Now that more Nationalists are seeing that it was in fact a surrender and that there will never be a United Ireland, they have lost interest.

    BTW Dalek sounds as if your buddy wasn´t cut out for the cops.

  • dalek

    Doctor Who

    i was playing devils advocate slightly and your assumptions as to who took Donaldson out and who robbed the bank are merely assertions..Who Knows?

    Have some sympathy with your linkage with the miners strike where for the first time in my life time the police stopped acting like police but acted as storm troopers for margaret thatcher and behaved in a highly political manner.(to the detriment of their credibility by the way)

    oh and why is anything that causes equalisation in this society automatically seized upon by unionists as as a concession to republicans and always regarded as being detrimental to unionists?

    And it wasn’t a surrender and there will be a united ireland within the context of the wider europe at some stage.

    And yes maybe she wasnt cut out for the cops..Who knows?

  • BP1078

    dalek
    I take it back,having reread the Irish Times article again there is something mildly interesting here.

    Not the stats themselves, but the actual reporting of the story. It’s Press Association and not any specific journalist that’s written it-none of SF’s poodle-hacks in either the mainstream press or the likes of The Angrytown News have touched it. Also, it isn’t the usual SF apparachnik giving the rentaquote in the piece, but someone from the “British-Irish Human Rights” ngo(and I’ve checked, it isn’t one of the usual “Human Rights” SF front organisations that we get here)

    Strange, because you would have thought this kind of thing would have been manna from heaven to Spin Fein-couple of months ago they’d have been falling over themselves to put in their tuppennyworth-so what’s changed now do you think??

  • Reader

    dalek: Surely the disproportionate amount of Catholic recruits leaving the service is newsworthy?
    Just a few weeks ago wasn’t there a suggestion that the bar was set lower for entry for Catholic recruits to keep the 50/50 numbers up? (Maybe it wasn’t on Slugger, though).
    But if that’s the case, isn’t there a likelihood that a higher proportion won’t make the grade during the course?

  • dalek

    BP1078

    Well thought out on your last point! I absolutely see where your coming from on that one. Best not to mention certain things when business is afoot so it were ..nice one.

  • dalek

    Reader

    Not really sure where you are coming from. Surely the suggestion that the bar is some how set lower for catholic recruits is purely disinformation?

    It certainly would be illegal unlike the 50:50 rule which isn’t illegal.

    your logic is probably correct though in that if the bar was set lower for one community which it isn’t by the way then there probably would be a disproportionately hgher level of drop outs from that community. However that is not the reason!

    Correct logic extrapolated from a false premise does not equal truth.

  • miss fitz

    Reader
    Speaking as someone who was present for parts 1&2 of the assessment process for 4 years, I would say it would not be possible to ‘lower the bar’, nor was there ever any suggestion or ability to do so. In fact, the independent lay assessors pretty much knew only the first name of the candidate.

    In fact, the whole assessment process was laboriously fair and beyond any kind of reproach. At this point in time, its probably a little bit of overkill to keep it running at that level, but no-one’s getting poor doing it.

    The only place the bar could have been lowered may have been in the physical assessment portion. If my memory serves, this had to be adjusted for women at one point, but never on religious grounds. I think the suggestion is a bit ridiculous and whoever made it doesnt seem to have an understanding of how the process worked.

  • Cynic

    “I forgot to add with reference to your last point that the PSNI is not a British Police Force.

    It is a Northern Ireland (until circumstances change) Police Service.

    subtle difference but worth noting.”

    Really? Read the GFA Dalek. It’s British for the forseeable future. Forget all the spin about a ‘ United Ireland in my lifetime’. It’s a United Kingdom that Sinn Fein signed up to.

    When you lose the war you take what you can get….and pretend to your followers that it’s a great concession you have wrung from the enemy!

  • Cynic

    As I understand it they all go through the same tests to the same standard (although the physical tests differ for men and women). All those who pass go into a ‘pool’ for their community. They each carry an overall mark from the assesssment process. PSNI then appoint all the Catholic applicants and the same number of Protestants.

    This often means that to get appointed the Protestants have to score higher than the Catholics as its more competitive in their pool – to be successful they have to get to the top of their pool, not just get into it and they are competing against higher numbers of candidates. They should therefore be ‘better’ candidates ie have even higher skill levels.

    It will be interesting to wait a few years until the new recruits become eligible for promotion and see if the Protestant cohorts then start to outperform the Catholic cohorts. Logically they may do as the selection process they have been thorough is harder.

    Of course this should make no difference at the level of the individual….the top class recruits from the top of both pools will normally do best overall … but if the internal promotion processes are really fair it may show up in the overall figures as the ‘community background’ cohorts have not been selected on the same basis.

    Oh won’t that be fun!

  • dalek

    cynic

    You said : “It’s British for the forseeable future.”

    sorry no you’re wrong. it would appear that the PSNI will be under the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom (not Britain and therefore not British) for the foreseeable future before the merger with the Garda Siochana but in either case it has never been a British police service/force in the past or the present.

    Sorry to have to state the bleeding obvious.

  • Cynic

    Dalek

    Self delusion is a wonderful thing.

    Read the GFA. Constititional Issues Clause 1(i)and its there in black and white and backed by the referenda.

    NI remains British for as long as the majority in NI want it to. PSNI remains a British Police Force. Most of the laws in NI will remain copies of British Laws with minor adaptations for the different judicial system.

    The only other difference to England is a stronger recognition of the Irish Dimension in NI – but in the context of NI as part of the UK.

    Trying to use linguistic nuances to suggest otherwise is nonsense.

  • dalek

    Sorry Cynic but its not a linguistic nuance but simply slackness on your part whereby you equate britain with the UK…Wrongly.

    NI remains part of the United Kingdom for as long as the majority in NI want it to. PSNI remains a united kingdom Police Force/Service. (corrected)

    Most of the laws in NI will remain copies of those adopted in great britain with minor adaptations for the different judicial system. (I accept this point as the NICS lazily lift every law passed in GB and replace the word england and wales with northern ireland and for the most part the scots do the same)

    As far as self delusion is concerned…I take it you dont see where the process is going. Would you like the exchange rate between sterling and your soon to be currency the Euro?