More than 1,000 senior members of the notorious RUC police who left the force as part of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement have been rehired, it has emerged.
The numbers indicate that a peace scheme to overhaul the force and introduce more Catholics has been substantially reversed. Sectarian killers and loyalist conspirators may be among those who were re-employed by the force, which was rebranded as the PSNI.
Over 10 years the PSNI has engaged 2,740 “temporary” staff, of whom 1,071 were former RUC members who left the force with an early severance package.
Nearly a fifth of all RUC staff who left under the Patten changes were subsequently recruited by the PSNI, according to an audit published this week. Many of those re-employed took up positions which were not accountable to the Police Ombudsman or bound by any code of ethics.
Over 250 were re-employed within three months of leaving in what appears to have been a faked retirement. Most controversially, some were assigned sensitive roles in historical enquiries in which they had previously been the subject of investigation.
Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly said the facts of the matter could no longer be denied.
“It is a story of cronyism and jobs for the boys at the expense of the Police Service and the public interest,” he said.
“Sinn Fein, while the PSNI were refusing to admit it was happening, has been working to uncover the scandal of rehiring former police members who were given huge severance packages.
“Retiring and rehiring was rampant and this report proves it. The fact that 100 million pounds of public money has been spent makes it a scandal on an industrial scale.
“It undermines what Patten was about with more than 1000 police officers retired under Patten being rehired.
He said there was “no place for an old boys’ network in the new beginning to policing we all deserve” and this was a ‘moment of truth’ for the current PSNI leadership.”