HC Deb 14 January 1998 vol 304 c333
1. Rev. Martin Smyth

If she will list the perceived religion of (a) all officers and (b) officers above chief inspector level in the RUC in percentage terms. [20851]

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mr. Adam Ingram)

The perceived religion of all officers in the regular Royal Ulster Constabulary at 1 December 1997 was 88.5 per cent. Protestant, 8.26 per cent. Roman Catholic and 3.24 per cent. undetermined. At superintendent level and above, the figures were 80.95 per cent., 17.26 per cent. and 1.79 per cent. respectively.

Rev. Martin Smyth

I am sure that the Minister will join me in expressing sympathy and at the same time understanding something of the tension in north Belfast following this morning's tragic incident. I welcome the figures that he has given because they show that, if only about 8 per cent. of RUC officers are from the Roman Catholic community, at least attempts have been made to promote people whether on merit or otherwise, causing the perception to develop and the concern that there may be disproportionate promotions in the RUC.

Mr. Ingram

I share the hon. Gentleman's sentiments about this morning's incident. We all wish the injured RUC officer a speedy recovery. I do not know where the hon. Gentleman's concerns about promotion arise from, because the majority of people in Northern Ireland want a balanced police force that represents the spread of communities. That is also the view of the RUC and its senior officers. I suggest that a large majority of RUC officers want to be accepted in the wider community. One way to achieve that is for the RUC to represent a wider cross-section of the communities in Northern Ireland.