“Fair employment and equal opportunities legislation are built upon open and transparent practices, free from political interference…”

The, at best, ill-considered comments by Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald yesterday, on potential candidates from within the PSNI to succeed George Hamilton as Chief Constable, have prompted a sharp reminder from the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland to the NI Policing Board of its responsibilities under equality legislation to recruit in a non-discriminatory way.

The Equality Commission has expressed its concern about the recent comments made by the Sinn Féin President about the appointment of a new Chief Constable for the PSNI and has written to the Policing Board to remind it of its responsibilities under equality legislation to recruit in a non-discriminatory way.

“Fair employment and equal opportunities legislation are built upon open and transparent practices, free from political interference and based upon the merit principle. This approach has been important in helping to create fair employment procedures on which all prospective applicants can rely,” Dr Michael Wardlow, Chief Commissioner, said.

“The Policing Board will need to ensure that the principles of equality law are applied fully and rigorously in the forthcoming competition for a new Chief Constable and that all involved are aware of the critical importance of this.”

It wouldn’t be the first time Sinn Féin members on the NI Policing Board attempted to interfere in its appointments process...

[Ah, Drew Harris.  Where is he now? – Ed]  Perhaps he should be invited to apply for the post…

Adds  It’s worth noting Sinn Féin policing spokesman Gerry Kelly’s clarification of his party leader’s comments

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show, Mr Kelly defend his party leader and said that she did not know many of the PSNI top brass.

Mary Lou doesn’t know any of the people in the top team, she was only introduced to the temporary deputy chief constable and the other assistant chief constable yesterday,” the North Belfast MLA said.

Pushed on whether he considered there to be candidates inside the PSNI capable of doing the top job, Mr Kelly admitted there were.

I think there are clearly people capable of doing the Chief Constable’s job wherever they come from whether that is within the PSNI or outside,” he said. [added emphasis]

[Et tu, Gerry? – Ed]