Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

20.28 24 May 2019


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A new chief constable has been chosen to oversee Northern Ireland's police force.

Simon Byrne will take over from George Hamilton next month.

The former head of Cheshire Police was one of four candidates for the job, which carries a salary of €235,000.

BBC reports the other candidates were PSNI officers Steve Martin and Mark Hamilton, and the head of Bedfordshire Police Jon Boutcher.

Today, the Northern Ireland Policing Board unanimously agreed to approve Mr Byrne at a special meeting.

The board's chair Anne Connolly said: "Mr Byrne brings a wealth of strategic and operational policing experience to the role  - he has 36 years of policing experience, 21 years as a Chief Officer and almost 8 as a Chief Constable serving the Metropolitan Police, Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Cheshire.

"We are looking forward to working with him in further developing the PSNI as a highly professional and community focused organisation."

Tánaiste Simon Coveney congratulated Mr Byrne, saying he can "assure him of the full support and cooperation of the Irish Government".

In a statement, Sinn Féin's deputy leader Michelle O'Neill said her party was looking forward to working with Mr Byrne - but argued that efforts are needed to "rebuild and redevelop public confidence in policing".

She said: "Sinn Féin urges the incoming Chief Constable to commit to policing with the community as the core principle and basis for progressing  modern policing.

“There is an onus on the incoming Chief Constable to ensure that significant failures of the PSNI to disclose information in a timely and acceptable manner to the courts and to families of victims of the conflict must end.

“There must be no more blocking or delays.”

Meanwhile, DUP MLA Mervyn Storey congratulated Mr Byrne.

He observed: "The real work commences now as we seek to improve policing and tackle those issues which need addressed so our communities feel safe in their homes and proud of their police force.”

Main image: Simon Byrne, screenshot via Cheshire Police

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