BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: N Ireland  
News Front Page
Middle East
South Asia
N Ireland
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
Sunday, 4 November, 2001, 13:52 GMT
'New era' as NI police change name
Northern Ireland's police chief has said policing in the province entered a new era as the Royal Ulster Constabulary changed its name.

The RUC became the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) at midnight on Saturday and the first recruits to the newly renamed service started training on Sunday.

The changes to policing come as part of sweeping reforms to the service under the terms of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement peace accord.

PSNI Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan admitted making the police service more representative of the whole community would take up to ten years.

RUC chief constable
Sir Ronnie Flanagan: "We are embracing a new culture"
The new trainees have been recruited on a 50:50 Catholic-Protestant basis and recruitment will continue under this quota system.

But speaking on the BBC's Breakfast with Frost programme, Sir Ronnie said the important issue was not the religious or gender head count.

"Much more important is the creation of a culture where equality for all is offered and where respect for cultural diversity and for individual dignity is the order of the day," he said.

Sir Ronnie said it was an emotional day, but said he was proud to be the officer overseeing the changes.

"I'm very proud to see this morning our new trainees start an entirely new training programme to help bring about, hopefully, a more a peaceful future for all the people of Northern Ireland," he said.

Dissident threat

Sir Ronnie said he had "a real basis for being hopeful" that the violence of the last 30 years was coming to an end.

But he said detonation of a car bomb in Birmingham on Saturday night by dissident republicans was "a sharp reminder that there are still people with no political analysis to offer who just want to wreck everything".

He said, however, that the successes of Northern Ireland, Irish, English and international police forces in thwarting dissident republican operations had "seriously dented the intentions of these people".

Quota recruitment

The RUC was established in Northern Ireland following partition in 1921.

The service lost 302 members to terror attacks during the last 30 years of violence and thousands more were injured.

Current members of the RUC automatically transferred into the new service.

RUC officers
The RUC uniform will be changed

The first 47 recruits to the PSNI will undergo an intensive 40-week course and will be fully operational by next spring.

Just more than 300 new recruits will be trained in this financial year and about 600 each year after that.

The service will be overseen by the new Policing Board, which replaces the Police Authority.

The 19-member board has 10 members drawn from the Ulster Unionist Party, Democratic Unionist Party and the nationalists SDLP. Sinn Fein has refused to take its seats.

The remaining nine members, including the chairman, are non-political.

The board meets for the first time on Wednesday.

The board is to help to decide on a new crest and flag for the PSNI in consultation with the Northern Ireland secretary.

The name Police Service of Northern Ireland was selected in preference over Northern Ireland Police Service when officers pointed out they would inevitably be called Nips.

PSNI Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flannagan
"There is great deal of poignancy in this weekend"
Read BBC News Online's full special report on policing reform in Northern Ireland

Key stories


See also:

03 Nov 01 | N Ireland
02 Nov 01 | N Ireland
04 Nov 01 | N Ireland
31 Oct 01 | RUC Reform
21 Sep 01 | N Ireland
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more N Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more N Ireland stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |