Northern Ireland

Matt Baggott retirement: Political reaction to announcement

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Media captionPoliticians from Northern Ireland have been giving their reaction to the news Matt Baggott is to retire

Matt Baggott has announced he is to retire as Northern Ireland's chief constable when his contract ends in September.

Members of the Policing Board, which holds the Police Service of Northern Ireland to account, are among those who have been giving their reaction to his decision.

David Ford, Stormont justice minister

"Matt Baggott has served as chief constable of our police service during a very difficult period in our history.

"We have seen police officers come under attack from terrorists and from street protestors, and the chief constable has been constant in his support for his officers.

"Despite all of the pressures on police, recent surveys show that public confidence in the police remains at very high levels.

"This is a credit to Matt Baggott's leadership and his determination to deliver personal professional policing in local communities."

Theresa Villiers, Northern Ireland secretary of state

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"I would like to offer sincere gratitude to the chief constable for the commitment he has demonstrated in delivering effective community policing across Northern Ireland and tackling the threat from terrorism.

"He has made an outstanding contribution to keeping the people of Northern Ireland safe and secure.

"During his time as chief constable, Matt Baggott has also been responsible for the successful policing of a number of key events including the Olympic Torch Relay, World Police and Fire Games and the G8 Summit.

"I wish him well for his remaining time as chief constable and for the future. I thank him for his dedicated service to Northern Ireland."

Anne Connolly, Policing Board independent chairperson

"I'm sorry to see him go.

"He has worked hard, but it has not been an easy five years for him.

"We've had an awful lot of disorder last year, but there has been a lot of good achievements.

"Yes, the majority of people would say, 'who would want this job', but I know we will get someone good to replace him and Northern Ireland will move on."

Jonathan Craig, DUP Policing Board member

"He inherited a police force that was historically involved in dealing with a massive terrorist campaign - he took it from that position and turned it into a community-based policing organisation.

"However, the terrorist threat did not totally disappear and that has hindered that progression in many ways.

"When it comes to the flags protest and other issues that have occurred lately, I think that caught him off guard. Sadly, he didn't fully understand the consequences of those protests, and that has tainted his reaction to them.

"That said, I think historically he will be remembered for turning the PSNI into a community-based policing organisation."

Pat Sheehan, Sinn Féin Policing Board member

"We certainly had some disagreements with Matt over the past few years, but he came to the job with a background in community policing which is something we would have majored on heavily.

"At the end of the day, it's a clear balance-sheet calculation - have the Patten proposals been advanced or not?

"It's not really a straightforward answer because in some cases they have and in others they have not.

"I'd like to wish him well in his retirement."

Dolores Kelly, SDLP Policing Board member

"I was on the interview panel that appointed Matt - he came highly recommended with a great track record on delivery of community policing, and that's what the Policing Board was looking for.

"He put more officers on the beat, and has worked very hard - local people have always been impressed with the sincerity of how he's dealt with their concerns.

"It's fair comment that over the last couple of years, when we've seen a growth in the dissident threat, that it has been more difficult in terms of policing.

"With the street protests, many people were disappointed with how the police dealt with the protests at the time, and over the last few months, there have been some questions raised over some of the leadership of the Historical Enquiries Team.

"Moving into the future, and looking at Haass and dealing with the past, we need to have a culture within policing and elsewhere that cooperates with those agencies much more transparently."

Ross Hussey, Ulster Unionist Policing Board member

"Matt Baggott came to Northern Ireland with the intention of trying to bring us forward into a more peaceful society.

"Unfortunately we had the dissident threat, we had a major problem in policing, and Matt manfully did his job to the best of his ability.

"At the time, he was the right person for the job - unfortunately times changed for the worse and we had police officers being killed, threatened and injured.

"I think he did a very good job in very difficult circumstances."

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