10 April 2006

We Say: Vetting returns


We reveal today that 155 new starts at local engineering firm FG Wilson are to be security-vetted by the PSNI. This will disappoint those of us who had hoped that such old-style political blackballing was a thing of the past.

We have no idea why a firm that manufactures generators needs the PSNI to give its employees security clearance. For its part, FG Wilson will say only that it is part of their “standard recruitment and selection process which has been developed in line with recommended best practice.” They don’t make it clear, unfortunately, when giving confidential information to the PSNI became standard practice in the engineering industry.

There is clearly a gap in understanding here between FG Wilson and the nationalist community of Belfast. The firm obviously believes that getting the PSNI involved in its employment process is a perfectly reasonable and uncontroversial thing. It obviously has no understanding of the deep suspicion of the PSNI that exists within the nationalist community, and it has no perception of the unease – and perhaps even fear – that nationalist people feel at the prospect of the PSNI having the final say on their job prospects.

The PSNI effectively now has the last word on who can and who can’t work for FG Wilson. This is troubling because as far as this community is concerned the PSNI is engaged in political policing, the main aim of which is to frustrate the political ambitions of nationalists and republicans.

Ex-republican prisoners trying to get their lives back on track will be opposed by the PSNI in their efforts to find gainful employment; more than that, we believe that the PSNI will grasp this opportunity to oppose political activists and anybody else critical of the part they played in the conflict here.

FG Wilson is not a security base, it is a manufacturing plant. The company should jealously guard the right to hire whoever it pleases without the say-so of an outside group with a political axe to grind.

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