Is it time to end 50/50 recruitment to the PSNI?

Great to see an important discussion on last Thursday’s Hearts and Minds being led by two woman, Dr Mary Gethins author of a new book on experiences of Catholics within the police in Northern Ireland, and Rev Leslie Carroll from the Presbyterian Church’s Church and Society Committee…

Now the proportion of Catholics in the PSNI is at 30% (just three per cent short of Patten’s original target) is it time to end the positive discrimination in favour of Catholic recruitment? Carroll claims the discrimination currently affects career progression as well as the base numbers… On the other hand Gethins argues, ‘if it works, don’t end it’…

PS, can’t imagine too many men having such an emotionally charged conversation without, as they say, losing the head…

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  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Driftwood,

    “OK Sammy, so why were British symbols not removed from the Royal mail, RNLI, Irish Guards or even the RVH?”

    The next time you are in Dublin check out the RDS or the Royal College of Surgeons.

    …Nationalists could not give a feck what the British call their army units – that is a matter for themselves.

    Britian gets to pay the bills (guilty conscience goes a long way) and the (Ulster) Irish run education, police, transport, justice et al and hopefully will be setting the Corpo tax rate soon.

    The fact that there are still public school boys hiding in the bushes is I agree a problem.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Sammy,

    Again you are right that the 50:50 in isolation is discriminatory. I would argue though that the 50:50 should not be veiwed in isolation because it formed part of the overall framework to create a representative service. 50:50 recruitment and the increased recruitment/early retiement schemes are two sides of the same coin and the latter operates to negate the discriminatory impact of the former.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Lionel,

    “I would argue though that the 50:50 should not be veiwed in isolation because it formed part of the overall framework to create a representative service.”

    If that is definitivley the case – then I’m with you.

  • Mark McGregor

    Of course it’s now convenient to ignore the elephant in the room:

    The RUC shouldn’t have been reformed but totally disbanded and consigned to the dustbin of history.

    Then this problem would have been greatly diminished.

    The only reason there is a problem with dealing with the legacy of the RUC and majoritarian protestant policing is because the RUC and protestant policing was ever allowed to have a legacy via several Stormont Agreements.

  • joeCanuck

    All members of the RUC were bad.
    All republicans are good.

    Have I gotten those two statements somehow mixed up?
    Anyone know how prepare curate’s eggs?

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    joeCanuck

    “All members of the RUC were bad.
    All republicans are good.”

    I think you may be over simplifying Mark’s position there.

    “All members of the RUC were bad.
    Most republicans are traitors.
    Except for a rare few like himself – who are good.”

  • DC

    Mark sounds like you would like to civilianise the PSNI – I’m all for that, the PSNI could in theory be broken down into county districts, given a new district identity and in sync given new powers for very local issues like ASB etc. A PSNI-lite, community policing.

    It would be possible to throw 50:50 in the bin and recruit local people – end of problem. You could have a largely catholic west Belfast policing district recruited from the area, perhaps the same for Carrickfergus and other such districts.

    Local police, local people. There ends the remoteness.

    The problems lie largely with centralisation and mistrust of local people and perhaps the worry of having too many prods in some areas and too many catholics in others and things overheating.

    So 50:50 is done instead via central recruitment leading to at best 70:30 – maybe 60:40 one day, new recruits policing areas they don’t come from and lacking in local knowledge and networks on the ground.

    And the centralised and remote tinkering done by politicians creates problems – take the problems with the Policing Board –

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-11687624

    The BBC has learned that an independent review of the Policing Board has found that the organisation is “lacking direction” and fails to deliver value for money.

    I’ve no doubt some areas of the PSNI’s work operational itself inherit the same problems.

    But for the optics – it all looks good, even on paper. New police ‘service’ and new recruits – who dare be against that?

  • Alf

    “But to return to 50:50 – do explain how 33% is ok and 38% can be so wrong (or whatever the %s are). That simply is not a logical position – if it ok to to put right the Catholic % then it also reasonable that differnet people will have differne views about where it is best to stop.”

    Sammy,

    I am saying no such thing. Unionists have allowed themselves to be discriminated against for several years now in order to help build up the numbers of Catholics in the PSNI. The specified time period is now coming to an end and therefore the discrimination must now end. Only the Most Oppressed People in Europe could possibly have a problem with nthat, and predictably enough they do.

    As a matter of interest do you have the percentage figures for Protestants in the Garda?

  • Alf

    “You’re drawing an equivalance between a temporatry and fairly marginal use of 50:50 in one institution for a limited period of time with a limited impact on a small number of people with decades of structural gerrmandering and routine exclusion ? You’re honestly seeking to do that with a straight face ?”

    Nun,

    The unionist tactic to prevent the destruction of Northern Ireland was to gerrymander a part of the country which intended to break away and thereby render NI unviable. That seems to be me to be a fairly benign way of doing their business.

    In contrast republicans embarked on a campaign of murder and destruction causing the deaths of thousands over the decades. That is something that they quite openly celebrate these days. Apparently with straight faces.

    “If the RUC was asanything like as impartial and effective as you seem to want us to believe they were (takes a revisionist to know one, I guess) for one thing then they wouldn’t have had that much to worry about by joining the RUC by way of fear of threat or imminent danger, wouldn’t you say ?”

    Are you now revising things to say that it was the RUC who were murdering themselves. Otherwise your statement makes absolutely no sense.

  • Alf

    “Even going into 2003 and 2004, the proportion of catholic applicants getting recruited was less than the proportion of protestant applicants being recuitment – despite Patten.”

    Lionel,

    That has to be nonsense. If there are insufficient Catholic applicants then only the equivalent numbers of ‘others’ are allowed to be recruited. Ridiculous but true.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Alf

    It does it you read it. If prod cops had been able to assure the safety of taig cops (by virtue of being both as efficient as you believe they were as well as impartial (a quality you noticeably don’t appear to esteem anyway)) then there might have been more catholic cops too. I do personally doubt that it but it’s not that complicated a point, perhaps even for you.

    So just so I’m not missing this, you’re now catastrophizing and getting all wound up and affecting offence about…. minor-and-regrettable-but-temporary-and-historically-necessary-and-adequately-legislated positive discrimination but…alrighting gerrymandering retrospectively?

    OK, well that’s all nice and clear then.

  • Alf

    Nun,

    Your statement is nonsense. Are you seriously suggesting that the police should have been capable of protecting their own members in republican areas when they were being murdered in unionist areas? What point are you attempting to make.

    I’m not getting wound up about anything. I’m merely pointing out the facts. Catholics joining the RUC were ostracised by their community and targetted for murder. That is why the percentage was so low. Incidentally it is a testament to the courage of RC members that they were brave enough to join depsite all of that.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Alf,

    Get this – religion is a proxy for National identity – the % of Prods in the Gardai is irrelevant as Southern Prods buy into the National identity in a way Northern Nationlaists did not.

    I would be interested if you could find a single example of Gardai or the Plain People of Ireland suggesting Prods or the lack of them is an issue. Good luck with that.

    “Unionists have allowed themselves to be discriminated against for several years now in order to help build up the numbers of Catholics in the PSNI. ”

    Yes, having conceded the principle then it is matter of debate when it is best to end it – you cannot reasonably say you support the principle and then try to make out it is such a big issue if the end date of that is under review to decide if in order to achieve its objectives (ie a blanaced force) it might need to be extended.

    As I said earlier if it looked like Prods were going to be underepresented as a result of this measue I would be AGAINST IT – Geddit?

    Try to remember what the original objective was and lets evaluate against that.

  • Aontachtach

    Alf

    These people will never accept that the RUC held the line here during the bad times. While some officers crossed that line and became criminals like the UVF and IRA, the vast majority, inwhich I include the brave RC’s who served did not. There is no police force in the world that does not have bad apples. That includes the Guards in the south, The NYPD,The Met.

  • Driftwood

    http://www.vexen.co.uk/military/religion.html

    • Religion in civil society is secularising (becoming less religious). The Armed Forces is following suit.
    • Although 86% of military personnel say they are Christian, less than half believe in God. Of those who believe in God, very few actually know about their stated religion.
    • One padre in 2006 said that only 5% to 10% of Army ‘Christians’ are active Christians3.
    • People are more honest about their religious beliefs in informal polls where there is no pressure to put the ‘right’ answer. 1150 respondents on a poll put:
    ARRSE.co.uk poll (2011 data)5

    Atheist 40%
    Agnostic 18%
    Religious (weak views, unlikely to take part) 25%
    Religious (strong) 17%

    This would be the ideal. The 17% who aren’t that bright could take remedial classes in science.

  • Aontachtach

    Sammy

    Are you saying the the Guards would not be a better police force if the members reflected the make up of your country. Would the police not be better off if they had more prods in it? I would say yes, as long as they got in on merit. Did you ever meet any RUC officers? Have you met any Unionist’s? The way people on this site are talking you would think Republicans believe that these two groups of people are beyond redemption.

  • Alf

    “Get this – religion is a proxy for National identity – the % of Prods in the Gardai is irrelevant as Southern Prods buy into the National identity in a way Northern Nationlaists did not.”

    Sammy,

    You managed to totally contradict yourself in just one sentence. Surely some sort of record?

    “Yes, having conceded the principle then it is matter of debate when it is best to end it – you cannot reasonably say you support the principle and then try to make out it is such a big issue if the end date of that is under review to decide if in order to achieve its objectives (ie a blanaced force) it might need to be extended.”

    I supported the principle as laid out in Patten. Patten decreed when it would end and that time is now upon us. Therefore it must end. The only people who think otherwise are nationalists, and they do so only for their own selfish interests.

    A prime example of which can be seen by one and all in Downpatrick where they have managed to sectarianise the only cross community St Patrick’s day parade in the country.

  • Aontachtach

    It would be interesting to find out what percentage of the Protestant population in the ROI is in prison at the present time compared to the Catholic population. Is there anyway of finding out?

  • Alf

    “These people will never accept that the RUC held the line here during the bad times. While some officers crossed that line and became criminals like the UVF and IRA, the vast majority, inwhich I include the brave RC’s who served did not. There is no police force in the world that does not have bad apples. That includes the Guards in the south, The NYPD,The Met.”

    Aontachtach,

    It doesn’t fit the narrative you see. The IRA was badly defeated and republicans have dedicated themselves since that defeat to attempting to paint it as a victory. that requires a complete rewriting of history, and the crap you read from them reflects those efforts.

  • Aontachtach

    Alf

    Your right about the parade in Downpatrick. I know of two primary schools, one RC and and one state who have pulled out of the event because of this sectarian flag waver. They are participating in cross community work and going as a group. Nothing christian about sectarian flag waving in a cross community event. This flag was not even thought off when Patrick was spreading the gospel on this island. When will these morons ever learn. So called politicians should be above this nonsense. He has probably killed this event off as a cross community parade. Abolsolute disgrace.

  • Alf

    Aontachtach,

    No doubt though he will gain a few extra votes out of it.

  • andnowwhat

    I am quite sure that many catholics/nationalists/republicans could flood this thread with trivial buit wearing stories of how th RUC behaved towards themselves, their family and their community.

    Personally, I have several including how they behaved towards and assisted with, in one specific senior officer’s case, the tartan army in the area in which I had my childhood.

    As I said before, a bad apple is just that but when they are protected by an institution then that very thing is wrong.

    On the Downpatrick issue, the SF guy is an idiot. What he says invenerates the flag of which he speaks.

    Much as I respect and see the validity of unionists but do not want their flags on communal property and in communal events, he should feel the same.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Alf,

    Do you not accept that religion is a proxy for National identity?

    “You managed to totally contradict yourself in just one sentence. Surely some sort of record?”

    Would you like to say how ?

    The major problem with your arguement is this: You have accepted the principle of re-balancing the police force and we are now debating the percentage that this re-balancing should stop at – trying to make out that the percentage is now a matter of principle – just doesnt stack up.

  • Alf

    “I am quite sure that many catholics/nationalists/republicans could flood this thread with trivial buit wearing stories of how th RUC behaved towards themselves, their family and their community.”

    andnowhat,

    Generally as a prelude to explaining why they were perfectly comfortable with RUC officers being murdered.

  • Alf

    Sammy,

    You have stated that religion is a proxy for national identity. In the same sentence you then went on to explain how it isn’t.

    We are not debating the percentage at which it should stop at. We are debating when it should stop. That date was clearly set out by Patten and it is now upon us. For normal people the debate would now be over, but nationalists see jobs and votes for themselves in it therefore they are engaging in a futile attempt to change Patten.

    It is actually quite pitiful. They are actively calling for discrimination which suits their own people.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Alf,

    I asked you if accepted that religion is proxy for National identity?

    “You have stated that religion is a proxy for national identity. In the same sentence you then went on to explain how it isn’t. ”

    In one instance I was talking about Ulster in the other I was talking about the other 3 provinces (i.e. the South).- it is not a proxy for national identity in the South or Britain or elsewhere but it is in Ulster geddit?

    We are going round in cirlces here Patten was not implemented exactly as it says on tin – 50:50 was introduced to achieve a specific objective and it is reasonable to ask before scrapping it whether that objective can be best achieved by extending it.

    So find yourself someone who is not a ‘Republican’, someone ideally who knows feck all about Ireland and explain that a policy was introduced to re-dress an imbalance and that some people want to keep it to ensure it reaches its objective – and see what they say.

    I suspect you will be disappointed to hear that it is quite a sensible idea.

  • Alf

    Sammy,

    So if religion is a proxy for national identity in Donegal, as you say, what is the percentage of Protestant Garda officers in Donegal?

    Patten set a time limit and that time limit has come to an end. It was a great idea, which was hugely helped by the fact that republicans had largely stopped murdering police officers, but it has now reached the end of its time limit. Therefore it is over.

    Nationalist attempts to argue for its extention have served only to highlight their inherent hypocrisy when it comes to discrimination. It certainly won’t serve to extend 50/50.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Alf,

    I have now asked you 3 times if you accept that religion is a proxy for religion – are you avoiding that question?

    Why dont you try your arguement out with someone who is neutral e.g. someone from the mainland – explaining that you accept the principle of 50:50. The difficulty for you there is that you wont be able to pass of a practical arguement as ‘hypocricy’ when you get their reply.

    re. Ulster and Donegal – you will have to forgive my appallingly loose language.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    typo: I have now asked you 3 times if you accept that religion is a proxy for National identity– are you avoiding that question?

  • Driftwood

    Sammy
    What national identity (if any) do atheists and agnostics have?
    Nation states are a very recent phenomenon in ape/human History and more so beyond that. Why doesn’t the PSNI go for the Army rates in my previous post? ie – Atheists, who go along with *evidence*, a good thing for police personnel I would have thought.

  • Alf

    Sammy,

    I’m not avoiding it at all. You yourself have pointed out that it isn’t.

    Let us assume though that it is. Why should national identity be reflected in the police service? What for instance is the percentage of Polish people in the PSNI? What is the percentage of British people in the Garda?

  • Driftwood

    And given the ‘Christian’ cover up in the Hazel Stewart trial, surely it would be a good thing that such evangelical cult members get nowhere near wearing a state uniform.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Alf,

    Lets not assume anything.

    You do accept it or you dont? (4th time of asking)

  • Alf

    Sammy,

    I don’t accept it at all. For instance it cannot be assumed that Catholics or Protestants in Northern Ireland are either Irish or British. There are people of both religions from various nationalities living here.

    Why do Irish catholics feel that they are a special case here?

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Driftwood,

    I understand you have a fascination with religion, it is a self-serving one in order to ‘prove’ to yourself that the conflict in Ulster was about the viriginity of the Mary – despite centuries of evidence of repeated insurgencies becuase of the British presence – including by the United Irishmen – who were led by good Ulster Prods.

  • Alf

    “despite centuries of evidence of repeated insurgencies becuase of the British presence – including by the United Irishmen – who were led by good Ulster Prods.”

    Sammy,

    So what nationality were they a proxy for?

  • Driftwood

    Sammy
    My only concern with religion/mythology is that it still exists in light of the scientific evidence. All primitive societies had/have a creation myth. Science has shattered all of them.
    We had a conflict stirred on by medieval preachers and demagogues who have now taken the money and ran.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Alf,

    ” don’t accept it at all”

    I suspected you did not – though I’m not sure why.

    Do you know anybody from the mainland who is neutral on Ireland ? Are you prepared to ask them what they think and report back – no cheating.

    “Why do Irish catholics feel that they are a special case here?”

    The question is why did Chris Patten, the 3 governments and all the Southern and British political parties think they were.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Driftwood,

    “My only concern with religion/mythology is that it still exists in light of the scientific evidence. All primitive societies had/have a creation myth. Science has shattered all of them.”

    As I have pointed out to you before – I complelty agree with that.

    Let me ask you this: Did you support the British sailing half way around the world to reclaim the Falklands?

    If the answer to that is Yes – then you must surely understand why Republicans have continously waged insurgenices against the British presence here over centuries – and not because of religion.

  • Alf

    “Do you know anybody from the mainland who is neutral on Ireland ? Are you prepared to ask them what they think and report back – no cheating. ”

    Sammy,

    I know an English catholic called Chris patten who says that the discrimination had a fixed timeline. Will he do?

    “The question is why did Chris Patten, the 3 governments and all the Southern and British political parties think they were.”

    I suspect that they were quite keen to stop them from murdering people. Does a murderous nature make people special?

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Alf,

    I suggest again you speak to a neutral mainlander.

    I’m off to me leaba and I have nothing further to add on the subject of 50:50 in the Polis Servis o Norlin Airlan

  • Alf

    Sammy,

    You don’t regard Patten as being neutral? Strange then that you are so keen on extending his 50/50 plan.

  • Lionel Hutz

    That has to be nonsense. If there are insufficient Catholic applicants then only the equivalent numbers of ‘others’ are allowed to be recruited. Ridiculous but true.

    —————————

    Alf,

    You can call it nonsense but its true. Your second sentence is ridiculous though and not true. Let me explain this to you.

    There are always enough catholic applicants to fill the places required. There a many many times more applicants than recruits you know. There is a rigorous testing process, both physical and mental, and those that pass find themselves in merit pool from which around 400 recuits are made. So many applicants from both communities fail to make it and for some anomoly, Catholics were proportionally less likely to be recruited. There are no conspiracy theories there. However, it should demonstrate to you that Merit is still the most criticial criteria. Religion/community background comes after merit.

    On the wider point you make Alf – Your argument that 50:50 was acceptable but now must stop because Patten said it would is I’m afraid wrong. Patten did not say it would stop.

    “14.10

    We have not taken our model beyond ten years. As we have said in the previous chapter, we would expect the question of the size of the police service to be revisited by that time. In the light of recruitment experience and other developments between now and then, a judgment would need to be made as to whether special measures were still needed to achieve a police service representative of the community or whether this could now be expected to develop naturally. Either way we envisage that the composition of the police should continue to move towards a closer resemblance to that of the community as a whole.”

    It would have been ridiculous for Patten to have left 50:50 for 20 or 30 years as it amy have become unneccessary by then. They had a model – a very accurate model indeed- and they said the issue should be revisited after that.

    So here we are revisiting it!

    The central questions are:

    -Is 30% is enough of a critical mass that it could not fall under some majority rule?

    -Can we establish a representative Police Service without these “special measures”?

    Now there is little doubt in my mind that the answer to the first question is positive. Apart from anything else, the rigorous monitoring of the Police would not allow this 30% to be discriminated against within the service but more generally 30% is a critical mass and is too big to be overlooked by the service.

    The difficulty is in the second one. Having 30% from the Catholic/Nationalist cultual background is not enough. There are well over 40% of this community in Northern Ireland and we need to increase that representation. I am not convinced that that 10% would be bridged without 50:50. Even with 50:50 the increase will not become as rapid as it did in the early days. You have to remember that a big contribution to the success in making the police service more representative was because the service was rationalised.

    Also a comparison can be made with police officer, to whom 50:50 applies and the support staff to which it doesn’t apply. The statistics are here. Whilst officers are up to 30% perceived cathholic, support staff are just 18%.

    http://www.psni.police.uk/index/updates/updates_statistics/updates_workforce_composition_figures.htm

    I also believe that as Northern Ireland is not as stable as was envisaged in Patten, the need for 50:50 remains. With the dissident threat in particular and their current war on the police, I believe it is important for the Police to be shown to make strides to make the service representative. Apart from anything else, the message that ending it would send would have a detrimental impact.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Lionel,

    excellent post.

    In relation to your statement “The difficulty is in the second one. Having 30% from the Catholic/Nationalist cultual background is not enough. ”

    How explicit did Patten, either seperately or in his report, make it clear that relgion (Catholicism) was a proxy for Nationalism and therefore loyalty to the state.

    This is important, because really what Patten and the GFA was actually about was adjusting the state(constitutionally, politically etc) so that it was acceptable to Nationalists. By constant reference only to ‘Catholics’ and ‘Protestants’ the original objectives would seem to be obscured.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Sammy,

    He continually used Catholic/Nationalist to describe it. There is no that the two are interchangable. It is my understanding that the terminology used in “Percieved Catholic”, “Percieved Protestant” and “Undetermined”. These terms were used by the RUC pre-Patten as it was already trying to increase representation from that community. The way they did this was by asking Candidates what school they went to and then making determination from that. I think that may have changed though.

    But in basic terms, Patten saw a divided society with two communities with one severely under represented and the purpose was to raise that representation. What you call that community is riddled with difficulty. If you call then Nationalist, well that may not fit everyone, and it just politicizes the police, which is undesirable. You call them Catholics and certainly in recent times that doesn’t really fit as many dont even see themselves as cathoic anymore.

    I think they just ask the question, “What community background do you come from?” and let people use their common sense.

  • Alf

    Lionel,

    It is an impossibility. The current recruitment policy means that the number of Catholic recruits must be equally matched by the number of ‘others’. That includes people of all religions.

    Patten said that 50/50 would be revisited and so it was last year. It was extended for another year in order to ensure that the percentage reached Patten’s requirement which was 29-33%. that quota has now been reached and therefore 50/50 will end.

    Approximately 948 Protestants have passed all the criteria for joining the police, but have subsequently been turned down because the catholic quota had to be filled. If a similar number of Catholics had been discriminated against because of their religion there would be hell to pay. Peopler have apparently launched terror campaigns for less (if we are to believe the new Sinner rhetoric).

    Finally can I just point out that the 69% Catholic Equality Commission has reported on 50/50 and concluded that it has reached its useful end.

    Oh almost forgot. The RIC was 90% Catholic, but that didn’t stop republicans from murdering them, ostracising their families and blackening their name with disgusting propaganda.