Michelle O’Neill, the First Minister of Stormont, hopes that by attending a PSNI graduation ceremony, she can inspire more Northern Ireland nationalists to become police officers, reports Breaking News.
Speaking at an attestation ceremony for new recruits, Ms. O’Neill expressed her belief that this was the “right juncture” in the region’s “policing journey” for Sinn Féin to be represented.
When powersharing was restored to Northern Ireland this weekend, the deputy president of Sinn Féin became the first nationalist first minister in the history of the province.
Six new recruits were formally graduated as constables, and guests in attendance included Alliance Party Justice Minister Naomi Long and DUP deputy First Minister Emma Little Pengelly, reports Breaking News.
Leading Sinn Féin members’ attendance coincides with police worries that attempts to increase Catholic representation in the PSNI, which was established 23 years ago as part of peace process policing reforms, are being stalled.
One of the main causes of the decline in nationalist community applications has been identified as the targeting of Catholic officers by violent dissident republicans.
According to Ms. O’Neill, having a police force that accurately reflects the community it serves is crucial.
“It’s a great day for the six graduates who have now been attested this afternoon and I wish them the very best for their future career in policing,” she said, reports Breaking News.
“I think it’s so important that our policing service reflects the diversity of our society that we have, so I wanted to be here and be part of wishing these new constables the very best in their journey,” she added, reports Breaking News.
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