The PSNI should explain how the bid to downplay the ‘Northern Ireland’ part of its title got this far

The term PSNI has been well established since shortly after it came into use in 2001, and few people need to be told that it is an acronym for Police Service of Northern Ireland.

By Editorial
Tuesday, 9th June 2020, 11:32 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th June 2020, 11:38 am
News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

The previous well known name of the police, the RUC, was a similarly well known acronym, for Royal Ulster Constabulary.

That name, of a fine police force that was respected in policing circles internationally by the time it was disbanded, had to be ditched, to placate nationalists.

Then the injustice of 50-50 recruitment was introduced, in which less qualified and less suited candidates from Catholic backgrounds for officer positions in the force were preferred for admission over better candidates from Protestant and other backgrounds (who were discriminated against).

This persisted until Catholic levels of recruitment reached a certain level. Yet this is not now enough for nationalism. As the Catholic percentage of recruits slides, there is a fresh clamour to introduce positive discrimination, as if lower Catholic levels are always the fault of everyone else.

But not only that, now there is push to re-brand the PSNI to downplay the Northern Ireland element.

Remember that this comes at a time in which republicans have been getting civil servants to use the phrase north of Ireland in documents.

Such terminology de-legitimises the fact of Northern Ireland, which exists under the principle of consent in the 1998 Belfast Agreement — yet those who roll their eyes and insist that terminology does not matter typically depict themselves as defenders of that deal.

The PSNI insist that they are not trying sideline the Northern Ireland part of their name. So why are they doing it?

The chief constable Simon Byrne’s answer is not impressive.

He says that the new logo, which bafflingly makes the Cross of St Patrick colourless and thus immediately un-recognisable, and which gets rid of the word Northern Ireland on the lower part of the crest, will “better reflect the breadth and depth of what we do and to improve our connection to our communities”.

There is no need for this change.

In fact we need a better explanation from the PSNI how such a plan has got far.

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Alistair Bushe