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Thursday, 30 May, 2002, 15:23 GMT 16:23 UK
Unionist unease over new chief constable
Hugh Orde
Mr Orde's appointment came after long deliberations
Unionists have expressed disquiet over the appointment of Hugh Orde as Northern Ireland chief constable.

However, a spokesman for the secretary of state has said he was satisfied with the appointment.

He said if John Reid had not had an unequivocal assurance of approval from his independent adviser, he would not have approved the appointment.

Mr Orde's appointment was announced by the Policing Board in Belfast following interviews on Wednesday.

Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid
John Reid: Congratulated Mr Orde on his appointment

Mr Orde is currently leading the investigation into the murder of the Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.

He joined the Metropolitan Police 25 years ago when he was in his late teens and at 43, climbed to the rank of deputy assistant commissioner.

His new post, regarded as one of the toughest jobs in the policing world, was confirmed by Dr Reid.

The other two candidates for the post were PSNI assistant chief constables Alan McQuillan and Chris Albiston.

Huge opportunity

Ulster Unionist Policing Board member Lord Kilclooney - John Taylor - said he was surprised by the decision.

"It is a controversial decision and indeed maybe somewhat political," he said.

"I'm concerned that it will not be well received across Northern Ireland."

Party colleague Fred Cobain, who was on the interview panel, was also critical of the appointment.


I think this has to be one of the ultimate challenges in policing for a chief officer

Hugh Orde
PSNI chief constable

Sammy Wilson, a DUP member of the board, said his main concern was that the police now needed a period of stability.

"When it comes to the effective leadership of the police, he will have my support on that.

"He is now appointed. I don't want to have a battle with him.

"But I do wish - and I think I've got a duty on behalf of the unionist constituency and many policemen who have expressed to me their weariness of change and change for change sake - don't be going down that road just because it is the politically correct one at present."

Sinn Fein said the appointment would "make little difference".

Stevens report

Speaking at a news conference shortly after his appointment was confirmed the new chief constable said the job was not one for the "faint hearted" but of huge importance for policing in the UK.

"I think this has to be one of the ultimate challenges in policing for a chief officer," he said.

"The Patten Report, the Police Ombudsman, the Policing Board, the new drive towards community policing, all provide a huge opportunity here to deliver one of the most effective police services in the world and a model that others may wish to follow.

"To be involved in that will be a huge privilege."

"I see it as a post of huge importance not only within Northern Ireland but nationally and internationally," he added.

Mr Orde's appointment as chief constable places him in the unusual position of having to implement the recommendations of the Stevens report which is examining allegations of security force collusion in the Finucane killing.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's Brian Rowan
"There will be a number of problems facing Hugh Orde as chief constable"
New PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde
"I see it as a post of huge importance to policing"
Read BBC News Online's full special report on policing reform in Northern Ireland

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Background

OTHER SPECIAL REPORTS
See also:

30 May 02 | N Ireland
20 May 02 | N Ireland
10 Apr 02 | N Ireland
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