Northern Ireland's police chief George Hamilton has accused Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald of "poor leadership" over her critical comments about his potential successor.

Last week, Ms McDonald said she would not have confidence in any current member of the Police Service of Northern Ireland's (PSNI) senior command team replacing Mr Hamilton when he retires in the summer.

Her remarks came after she met bereaved families caught up in a controversy involving the PSNI's failure to disclose documents about historic killings to Northern Ireland's Police Ombudsman.

The republican leader has been accused of undermining and compromising the chief constable recruitment process.

After discussing the issue with the PSNI's oversight body - the Policing Board - in Belfast, Mr Hamilton said: "I think Mary Lou McDonald was wrong, I think she was inaccurate and I think it was an act of poor leadership and it has a very detrimental impact on policing and on the peace we are all trying to build."

Ms McDonald has refused to apologise for, or retract, her comments.

When asked if she should say sorry, Mr Hamilton insisted that was "a matter for her".

"I don't anticipate for a second that we're going to get that," he said.

"But, more important than any offence she caused internally, whenever someone in leadership stands up and talks about the police being undemocratic, about being cynical, and about all the other very negative terms, how could we not be but surprised if there is a problem with confidence in policing."

He added: "I think the comments were the antitheses of all Sinn Féin say they stand for.

"They say they stand for equality, for fairness, for integrity and I can't think of anything further away from those qualities in what the party president said."

Mr Hamilton said he had "every confidence" in his senior colleagues, but he insisted the person who succeeded him should be the "best candidate", whether from within or from outside the PSNI.

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The Policing Board is responsible for appointing the chief constable. Ordinarily, a Sinn Féin appointee would be on the board panel that makes the decision.

During Tuesday's meeting at Policing Board headquarters, the organisation's lawyers briefed members on their view on whether Ms McDonald's comments had compromised the recruitment exercise.