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I join with others in condemning the attack last night — a murderous attack to kill a police officer in my constituency.
Just before 7.30 pm last night I heard the shots, the sirens and then the helicopter. It was very clear that something had seriously gone wrong. I spoke to police, and I started to receive calls from constituents, and I heard very clearly that there had been a shooting at Edenderry filling station on the Crumlin Road.
I visited the site and spoke to some of the officer's colleagues, who were visibly shaken because they had been serving with him only earlier that day. Some of them had lockers beside his in the station. I spoke to constituents who were at the scene. Today, I want to express my revulsion at this attack and send my thoughts to the officer, his family and his colleagues who are so clearly worried at this time.
This is the first shooting of a police officer for eight years in Northern Ireland. It is clearly an attempt by evil people not only to kill police, but also to kill the general public. As others have said, it was totally random and indiscriminate — gunfire into a garage forecourt in a built-up area, with Edenderry Gardens to its left and Edenderry Lofts to its right. Gunfire across a main arterial route in our city, into a forecourt with 12 members of the general public and the police who were there at the time.
This morning, I visited the manager of the petrol station at home. She told me that there were gunshots inches from gas tanks and fuel pumps. We could have been looking at real carnage — not just in terms of the murder that this police officer and his colleagues could well have had to face, but an explosion, from reckless, inhumane, evil people who, frankly, have to be brought to justice and removed from society. No politician and no party — and I am pleased to hear today's debate — should give them any succour, support or credence at any time ever.
There is also clear disruption to business life in north Belfast this morning, although these people do not think about that. There was disruption to that business: it lost last night's trading and, all day today, the garage will remain closed. Traffic chaos ensued on the Crumlin Road this morning.
We must all stand together against violence, intimidation and threats. I am concerned that this sort of violence follows a vacuum that has been created in Northern Ireland and that evil people might fill it. That is a danger that we face and it is a reason why this community — the Assembly and the people of Northern Ireland — is looking for leadership. We must all come together to show these people that they cannot and will not win. The people of Northern Ireland do not want to go back to the bad old days.