[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 September 2006, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
Ex-prisoners 'could join police'
greg campbell
Gregory Campbell said repentant ex-prisoners may join police service
Prisoners freed under the Good Friday Agreement may be able to join the police service, a DUP MP has said.

East Londonderry representative Gregory Campbell said it could only happen provided former prisoners "demonstrate they have repented".

He was asked on BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan Show if his party's decision to allow former paramilitaries to join the DUP should be extended to the police.

However, in a statement the DUP said its policy on policing had not changed.

"DUP policy in relation to policing is that there can be no question of a two tier policing system, particularly where terrorists, past or present are attempting to establish their own systems of justice through Community Restorative Justice Schemes," the statement said.

"We do not advocate or support the weakening of vetting procedures for the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the party does not support terrorist prisoners with convictions for murder and other serious criminal offences joining the police."

Police Federation chairman Irwin Montgomery said he was "dismayed" to hear Mr Campbell's comments.

Mr Campbell said the prisoners would have to show they did not advocate criminality.


If they did, he said, they could be considered for membership of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

"They have to demonstrate that they are repentant and they have to show that they do not advocate that sort of activities," he said.

"If so, they could then be considered, only if they demonstrate that, if they don't, they should not."

Mr Montgomery said his members would not stand for that.

"I am very dismayed to hear those comments," he said.

"I think that would totally undermine the police service if people who have been convicted of heinous crimes should mow serve as police officers. It is appalling."

DUP member and former prisoner Gary Blair also disagreed, saying a "conviction should rule everyone out".

Mr Blair, a spokesman for the DUP's Ballymoney branch, said former prisoners should not be permitted to join the police service.

"A conviction is a conviction and it should rule everyone out. I would never put myself forward to join the PSNI," he said.

'Credible officers'

"If the police want to be a credible police force, then I think they need to have credible officers and obviously people who broke the law repeatedly don't have that credibility and I include myself in that."

Sinn Fein assembly member Philip McGuigan said the DUP had "tried to create the myth that they had no relationship whatever with unionist paramilitaries".

"Gary Blair, the individual convicted of murdering my party colleague Malachy Carey in Ballymoney in 1992, is currently a leading DUP figure in Ian Paisley's constituency and has indeed led a campaign to see those jailed for the LVF sectarian double murder in Poyntzpass released," he said.

"It has also recently emerged that former DUP councillor and assembly member George Seawright was a member of the UVF."

Watch a report by Vincent Kearney

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

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific