SDLP Policing Board Member Dolores Kelly says more needs to be done to encourage Catholics to join. Following the PSNI celebration of twenty years since its formation. The SDLP have called for more Catholics to be recruited to the police force and a call for 50:50 recruitment to return.
Speaking following an interview with ITV news, Mrs Kelly said:
“When the PSNI was formed nearly 20 years ago John Hume and Seamus Mallon took the difficult decision to support it and join the Policing Board,” Mrs Kelly said.
“Despite much criticism from our political opponents at the time the SDLP made a tough choice for the greater good and as is often the case those critics followed us eventually.
“This week as the PSNI marks this important milestone they are also launching a recruitment drive for more officers. I can’t think of a better opportunity for us to recommit to the principles of the PSNI which was set up to be a shared police service for a shared society, a significant departure from the institutionalised sectarianism represented by the RUC.
“It is a matter of great regret that the British government dropped its original commitment to 50:50 recruitment and as a result an initial surge in Catholics joining the service has fallen away. Catholics now make up just 32% of the police service and without action this is likely to fall even further in the years to come.
“The SDLP has always encouraged Catholics to consider a career in the PSNI and I’m repeating that call today. Despite attempts from some narrow minded elements in our communities to dissuade Catholics from considering a career in policing it is a vocation to be proud of. Police officers perform a vital role in our society, they protect the public and keep our communities safe, often placing themselves at great risk.”