Sinn Féin: “In light of the need for absolute transparency in all public appointments and to protect the Policing Board’s integrity…”

Earlier today the Sinn Féin MLA, and member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, Caitríona Ruane, suddenly announced that she was unilaterally withdrawing from the panel to recruit a new PSNI Deputy Chief Constable – claiming that she “[believed] that the process may have been compromised”.  Here’s the statement from Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin MLA and Policing Board member Caitríona Ruane has withdrawn from the panel to recruit a new PSNI deputy chief constable and called for a fresh recruitment process.

The Policing Board member said;

“I removed myself from the panel for selection of a deputy chief constable because I believe that the process may have been compromised.

“In light of the need for absolute transparency in all public appointments and to protect the Policing Board’s integrity I believe the best course of action would be to begin a new recruitment process.”

But, according to the BBC report,

Northern Ireland’s Policing Board has rejected Sinn Féin claims that the process to recruit a new deputy chief constable was compromised.

The board, which holds the Police Service of Northern Ireland to account, said it had recommended to the justice minister who should be appointed. [added emphasis]

And the BBC report adds

In a statement on Monday, a spokesman said: “The recruitment competition has been subject to extensive independent oversight and scrutiny at all stages.

“Any suggestion that the process may have been compromised is firmly rejected.” [added emphasis]

What we do know about the process is that there were only two applicants.  As BBC News NI Home Affairs Correspondent Vincent Kearney reported on 10 September

Leading the PSNI is regarded as one of the most demanding jobs in UK policing.

And with an annual salary of almost £160,000 and a range of benefits, it was believed the role would attract a large field of candidates.

But only two people applied, and both are serving assistant chief constables with the PSNI.

Which, in the absence of a more detailed explanation from Sinn Féin for Caitríona Ruane’s ‘withdrawal’, apparently after the fact, leaves us with more questions…

Update Still no actual explanation, but we do have a further statement from Sinn Fein’s Caitríona Ruane.

Ms Ruane said: “I informed the Policing Board of my concerns about the need for absolute transparency in the recruitment process for the post of DCC in writing on Friday.

“I outlined serious concerns I have about the process.

“I then made it clear today that I could not take any further part in the current process.

“It is the integrity of the process which is most important in my view.

“I want to make it clear that none of my concerns reflect in any way on either of the two senior officers involved. They are clearly not at fault here.

“I have noted comments from other members of the Board in what seems to be an effort to circle the wagons.

“I reiterate my belief that in order to protect the integrity of the Policing Board that the best course of action would be to begin a fresh recruitment process.”

Curiouser and curiouser…