Upper Bann MLA Dolores Kelly calls for more Catholics to join the PSNI
More work needs to be done to encourage Catholics to join the PSNI, says Upper Bann MLA Dolores Kelly.
The SDLP MLA was speaking as the PSNI launched a recruitment drive for new officers and staff on Tuesday.
She said it is the 20th anniversary of the formation of the PSNI and a ‘perfect opportunity to recommit to the principle of a shared police force, representative of the society it protects’.
As of July this year, 32% of PSNI officers were from a perceived Catholic background, with 66% from a perceived Protestant background.
Mrs Kelly said: “When the PSNI was formed John Hume and Seamus Mallon took the difficult decision to support it and join the Policing Board. 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.
“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.
“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.
“Our police service isn’t perfect, they still get things wrong, like we all do, but we have come a long way. Joining the police provides people with a wide range of opportunities, the chance for career progression and to provide a good life for your family.”
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