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Thursday, 30 May, 2002, 09:31 GMT 10:31 UK
Unionists react to new police chief
Appointment is facing unionist criticism
Appointment is facing unionist criticism
The absence of two unionists from a news conference announcing Hugh Orde's appointment as Northern Ireland chief constable is seen as indicating concern within that community.

Policing Board members Sammy Wilson, of the Democratic Unionist Party, and Ulster Unionist Fred Cobain did not attend Wednesday's announcement.

Ulster Unionist Policing Board member Lord Kilclooney said the decision was controversial and "maybe political".


There are good indications that Hugh Orde is strong on change and strong on getting policing right

SDLP statement

"It seems to me that independent members of the board have sided with the SDLP in this appointment," he said.

In a statement, the SDLP Policing Board members Alex Attwood, Eddie McGrady and Joe Byrne said: "There are good indications that Hugh Orde is strong on change, strong on getting policing right and strong on working with people in communities uncertain and unhappy with the police.

"He has assumed an enormous responsibility and together with his officers and the Policing Board can ensure a police service which earns the allegiance of all."

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

'Change of face'

However, Sinn Fein said it did not believe the appointment would "make much of a difference".

The party's North Belfast assembly member, Gerry Kelly, said: "It doesn't take away from the central issue, which is that the legislative amendments to the Police Act are still not enough to command the support of nationalists and republicans.
Mr Orde: Examining Special Branch
Mr Orde: Examining Special Branch

"The gulf is still wide. It falls short of the model of policing expected after the Good Friday Agreement.

"You still have an awful lot of power in the chief constable's hands and not enough accountability and I think the change of face is not going to make any difference to that."

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

Although Mr Orde helped to write the report, whose recommendations are due to be published in the coming weeks, he said on Wednesday that the Steven's teams' findings would be reported in public, and in full, and would not "pull any punches".

Mr Orde joined the 'Met' 25 years ago when he was in his late teens and at 43, had climbed to the rank of deputy assistant commissioner.

His investigation into the Finucane killing has given him a close-up look at the most controversial aspects of policing in Northern Ireland.

Photo-finish

Mr Orde has also been examining how Special Branch functions.

The decision on who should succeed Sir Ronnie Flanagan was down to eight members of the Policing Board.

The interviewing panel included chair and vice chair Professor Desmond Rea and Denis Bradley, as well as three politicians and three independent members.

The province's acting chief constable, Colin Cramphorn, did not apply.

He is looking for a job elsewhere and has recently been interviewed for six chief constable posts in England and Scotland.

The post of Northern Ireland chief constable attracts an annual salary of 130,000.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
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:

10 Apr 02 | N Ireland
05 Apr 02 | N Ireland
27 Mar 02 | N Ireland
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