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Newry Rainbow Community welcome PSNI ‘olive branch’

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Newry Rainbow Community welcome PSNI ‘olive branch’ thumbnailRory Rafferty

CHAIRPERSON of Newry Rainbow Community, Rory Rafferty, has welcomed a PSNI recruitment drive aimed at attracting more female, LGBT and Catholic officers into the force.

A PSNI recruitment event will take place at Newry Rainbow Community's Monaghan Street premises at 6.30pm this evening (Tuesday), and Mr Rafferty believes that it is a recognition by the organisation that it is best served by having a greater diversity within its workforce.

Mr Rafferty stated that it would be churlish to spurn what he called an "olive branch" from the PSNI in their quest to make their workforce more representative and reflective of a modern, shared Northern Ireland.

"The police have a lot of different people that they want to reach out to, due mainly to the low historic quotas that they have," he said.

"In actual fact, the biggest campaign here is for women,  for Catholics in particular and for people who are 18-24.

"They have very few women, very few Catholics and very few gay people in the force so they're using this opportunity to change that," said Mr Rafferty.

Mr Rafferty said that there are only 300 positions. "[That] represents less than 3% of the overall amount of police, so even if they employed 300 gay people - which won't happen by the way, they might not even employ one - it won't even change the percentage of LGBT people within the police anyway, so the truth is that it's really not news."

The NRC Chairperson said that members of the LGBT community had been put off applying for policing roles in the past.

"The police would have been seen as quite a macho establishment, it would have been seen as quite a butch thing.

"That's why women are put off from joining the police overall, and Catholics are put from joining the police overall because, again historically, it was seen as a Protestant/Unionist basis within it.

"There are a lot of people who are put off from joining the police for one reason or another, and a lot of these people more than likely could potentially make excellent police officers. I hear all this talk about a shared future and about all of these people who want to live together in a normalisation society.

"They've come out and reached the olive branch, so, as far as I'm concerned, you can either be part of the problem or part of the solution, and in this respect, I think we are being part of the solution in association with the police trying to encourage more people to get involved," he said.

Mr Rafferty still thinks however, that the recruitment process will still be determined on a meritocratic basis, but said it could only be a good thing that the PSNI are casting their net wider to find the best people.

"The reality is that they are looking for the best candidate for the job- they're just looking in more places," he said.

"It's still a case of merit first and merit only.

"If the police are serious about tackling things like hate-crime and homophobia then they really do need to have LGBT officers on their team."

Speaking about the event on behalf of the PSNI, Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris said: "As part of our ongoing engagement towards under-represented groups within our organisation we have been working closely with a number of external agencies and we will be holding a number of information sessions regarding our current recruitment campaign.

"The Police Service of Northern Ireland is committed to ensuring our workforce is totally representative of the community we serve and that we are seen as an employer of choice."

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