Craig defends party’s approach to NCA after chief constable praises nationalists

DUP MLA  policing board member Jonathan Craig
DUP MLA policing board member Jonathan Craig

A leading DUP member of the Policing Board has defended his party’s approach to the National Crime Agency (NCA), after the PSNI chief constable praised nationalist politicians for ensuring greater accountability.

In February, the Assembly passed a motion allowing the NCA to become fully operational in Northern Ireland after the SDLP dropped its opposition to the crime-fighting body.

Chief Constable George Hamilton with Ali Kilpatrick (Policing Board human rights advisor) and board member Jonathan Craig. ''Photograph: Stephen Hamilton/Presseye

Chief Constable George Hamilton with Ali Kilpatrick (Policing Board human rights advisor) and board member Jonathan Craig. ''Photograph: Stephen Hamilton/Presseye

The move was eventually ratified after a series of concessions were agreed in negotiations between Justice Minister David Ford and the Home Secretary – which included an acceptance that NCA officers in the Province will be accountable to both the Police Ombudsman and the Policing Board.

Jonathan Craig was commenting after an Irish News article quoted George Hamilton as saying the delay in implementing the legislation was needed “to show who is responsible and who is accountable, and I think Sinn Fein’s position did push the debate along”.

Mr Hamilton said both Sinn Fein and the SDLP shared “valid concerns” over accountability.

“I think the fact that they asked questions and negotiated got us to a situation that is far better,”

Mr Craig said: “There was never any opposition from the NCA to the accountability mechanisms that have now been agreed. Early on, David Ford had got agreement between the NCA and the PSNI to have these accountability safeguards built in... literally within a month of when they were originally supposed to come.

“Sinn Fein held out for months on end because they didn’t want accountability – they wanted control, There was massive undue delay in the implementation of the NCA,” Mr Craig added.