Page last updated at 12:43 GMT, Monday, 13 April 2009 13:43 UK

Orde 'would be rejected by PSNI'

Sir Hugh Orde
Sir Hugh Orde revealed he had considered a career in farming

Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde has said he would probably not have the qualifications to get into the PSNI if he applied now.

Sir Hugh also told Radio Ulster's Talkback that he had originally planned a career as a dairy farmer.

He said a third of officers who joined the PSNI now have at least one degree.

"I joined at 19 with an A level and O levels and no degree. Frankly, I wouldn't get into the police service now," the chief constable said.

Sir Hugh also told host David Dunseith that he could have been known as Farmer Orde, rather than chief constable.

"Having left school with some qualifications, but not a shedload, I was very much looking forward to a year on the farm before I went to agricultural college," he said.

"But you realise very soon, even in those days, this was the mid-70s, that the farming industry was changing and if you didn't own land - and my family were not landowners - you were looking to your middle age before you could become a farm manager of any decent acreage.

I had some very interesting meetings in back rooms in all parts of Northern Ireland with people who explained to me their world
Sir Hugh Orde

"At that point I started to think more widely and the only thing that had really interested me at school apart from agriculture, was a careers talk by a local police sergeant."

Sir Hugh began his career in policing with the Metropolitan Police, joining in 1977, and rose to the rank of deputy assistant commissioner.

In 2002, he was made chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI)

He told the programme he did not consult many history books before taking up his job in Northern Ireland.

"I actually spent more time speaking to people," he said.

"I had some very interesting meetings in back rooms in all parts of Northern Ireland with people who explained to me their world.

"I learned more about the loyalist struggle from a man who is no longer with us - David Ervine - and working class politics.

"I learned more about the republican cause from people I have met and had long conversations with about where they were coming from and indeed their vision for the future."

During the interview, Sir Hugh also revealed what his choices would be on Desert Island Discs.

They included Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah", Otis Redding's "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay", Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" and perhaps most appropriately for Northern Ireland Johnny Cash singing "Bridge Over Troubled Water".

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