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'Nothing to apologise for': McDonald refuses to retract remarks about next NI police chief

Mary Lou McDonald doesn’t think any of the PSNI’s senior officers should replace its retiring chief.

SINN FÉIN LEADER Mary Lou McDonald has refused to apologise for saying Northern Ireland’s retiring police chief constable should be succeeded by someone from outside the force.

After meeting with senior officers to discuss a controversy surrounding Police ombudsman legacy files, McDonald said she does not think any of the PSNI’s current police commanders should be handed the top role when George Hamilton steps down in June.

Mary Lou McDonald comments Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald speaking to reporters outside Leinster House today. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

The remarks sparked criticism from political rivals and were labelled “offensive” by the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, which represents rank and file officers.

Speaking to the media today McDonald refused to retract the comments saying “there’s nothing to apologise for”.

Hamilton’s successor will be appointed by the Northern Ireland Policing Board, the PSNI’s oversight body. A Sinn Fein member will be on the panel that makes the decision.

“On the issue of the chief constable I have no role in the appointment of a chief constable,” McDonald said.

I was asked could I identify someone from the senior team who I thought ought to be chief (constable) and the truth is I can’t.

“Be clear on this, I am not going to decide who the chief constable is. Yes, we make appointments to the Policing Board and when people are appointed to the Policing Board they act in accordance with the statutory scheme, the rules and regulations – the letter of them.

“And I would expect and insist that any Sinn Féin appointee behaves in that manner.”

The Sinn Féin president dismissed the controversy as “political huffing and puffing”.

Last week the PSNI apologised for failing to reveal “significant information” about a loyalist gun attack that left five people dead in 1992.

The attack at Sean Graham’s bookies in south Belfast was carried out by the Ulster Freedom Fighters.

The PSNI apologised and said it never sought to deliberately withhold the information.

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Ceimin Burke

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