Campbell is right to raise concerns about PSNI recruitment

Morning View
Morning View

After a decade of positive discrimination against non-Catholics in Northern Ireland, the policy of 50:50 recruitment came to a welcome end last year.

It had been a radical measure to alter the heavy imbalance towards Protestants in the RUC.

While concerns about the imbalance were entirely appropriate, 50:50 solved that problem by creating a new injustice.

Better qualified non-Catholic applicants to the PSNI lost out to less qualified Catholics.

No-one, except those who ran and supervised the recruit of new PSNI officers, knows exactly which officers benefitted from 50:50 by gaining a place in the police over less qualified non-Catholic applicants.

It is appropriate that such details remain confidential.

But positive discrimination will have made some people suspicious of their fellow officers, or some failed applicants suspicious of some people they may know who succeeded: “Did that person succeed because of their religion?”

It is important to emphasise that non-Catholic recruits were discriminated against, not just Catholics.

Chinese applicants, for example, were discriminated against too, in much the same way that it could be said that Chinese people in Northern Ireland are discriminated against in the number of dedicated broadcasting services that they receive in the Province (when you consider the fact that there are Chinese speakers who do not speak English, and whose needs therefore are arguably more important than those who speak Irish, all of whom can speak English).

The argument about 50:50 is historical, because the policy has come to a welcome end, now that Catholics make up 30 per cent of the PSNI.

MP Gregory Campbell is right, however, to query the appropriateness of police appeals for more Catholic recruits.

While the appeals are, on the surface, reasonable given that Catholics remain under-represented on the force, it will raise understandable fears that non-Catholic applicants might still be at a some sort of disadvantage.

There has been enough positive discrimination as it is.