Sinn Fein leader attends police graduation in first for Northern Ireland
Michelle O'Neill, the leader of Sinn Fein and Northern Ireland's First Minister, marked a historic first by attending a police graduation, signifying a shift in her party's traditionally tepid stance toward the region's police force since the 1998 peace agreement.
The PSNI, which replaced the RUC after the agreement, had faced criticism from Sinn Fein for perceived similarities to its predecessor, causing reluctance to promote Catholic participation. By 2007, Sinn Fein had joined the policing board and, in 2020, supported a recruitment drive.
O'Neill highlighted the importance of a diverse police service at the ceremony, affirming her commitment to being a leader for everyone.
PSNI Chief Constable Jon Boutcher and Justice Minister Naomi Long welcomed her attendance as a positive and progressive step towards inclusivity in policing. This comes shortly after O'Neill's historic appointment as the region's first nationalist First Minister.