Police officer urges action to move society forward after dissident attack

One of the most senior police officers in Northern Ireland has urged action to move society forward following the latest terrorist attack.

Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin was speaking hours after police officers and bomb disposal experts escaped injury when a bomb exploded in Co Fermanagh.

He urged political progress after five attacks on police by dissident republicans, including a shooting in Londonderry in April which resulted in the death of journalist Lyra McKee.

Lyra McKee
Murdered journalist Lyra McKee (Chiho Tang/Oranga Creative/PA)

Northern Ireland has been without devolved government for more than two years following the collapse of the powersharing institutions following a breakdown in relations between the DUP and Sinn Fein.

Mr Martin has urged action.

“We have had two and a half years of no devolved institutions, we have unresolved issues around legacy and we saw an aspect of that play out in parading in Derry/Londonderry last weekend,” he said.

‘We shouldn’t take our peace for granted,’ says Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin. He says there are ‘small groups of determined people who pose real risk and danger’. He made his comments when addressing media about the explosion in Newtownbutler. pic.twitter.com/BEv9oNf0tQ

— Police Service NI (@PoliceServiceNI) August 19, 2019

“We have had tensions on the ground in communities this year around bonfires.

“We have the uncertainty around EU exit, we have had five attempted attacks to murder police officers this year and the find of another mortar type in the Castlewellan area.

“One of those attacks killed Lyra McKee.

Ulster powersharing
Powersharing government at Stormont has been collapsed since January 2017 (PA)

“I think when you add all that up, I do believe there is a time of reflection and a time to question what type of society we want to live here.

“Terrorists have spoken, in response the police service will continue to do its job, it will investigate this attack, men and women of the PSNI will be in every community today and tomorrow and the next day serving, but as I said in response when I went to Derry the day after Lyra McKee, and I appealed to people to have conversations, I think we now need action.

“We need as a society, led by our politicians, to absolutely set out not just our condemnation to these people but to work collectively together as a society right across the piste, police playing their part but police on their own not being sufficient to actually say ‘you do not represent the type of society we want to live in and we want to reclaim actually the prosperity I think we all felt a number of years ago’, but many of us sense things are becoming more entrenched and progress that had been made is maybe slipping back a bit.”

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