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The Shooting of a Police Officer in North Belfast

Part of Matter of the Day – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 12:15 pm on 23rd January 2017.

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Photo of Ross Hussey Ross Hussey UUP 12:15 pm, 23rd January 2017

I begin by passing my best wishes to the police officer who was seriously injured last night and to his colleagues in the Police Service of Northern Ireland. There is no doubt that we will all condemn this murderous attack, which could have resulted not only in the death of a police officer but of civilians, as was highlighted by my colleague Captain Beattie.

This attack was clearly not something that happened on a whim. Throughout the last term of the previous Assembly and this term of the present Assembly, we have had incidents throughout Northern Ireland. In my constituency of West Tyrone, and in the neighbouring one of Foyle, the Police Service of Northern Ireland has recovered many weapons and explosives, all belonging to terror groups that do not have the guts to give themselves a name or, at times, call themselves the "Continuity IRA" or whatever. I have a name for them, and that is "cowards"; that is all they have ever been and all they ever will be.

Twenty-four years ago today, a 21-year-old Royal Ulster Constabulary officer was shot dead in Londonderry. He had his whole life in front of him. Constable Michael Ferguson was done to death by the same sort of individual who tried to kill the police officer last night in Belfast. There is no difference. For all we know, the same weaponry was used. For years, I have been asking the police for information on weaponry that has been recovered and its history. For some reason, that information has never been released. Why? Can that weaponry be traced back to the IRA? Is there a possibility that groups that were IRA took their weaponry with them? Of course there is. That element of collusion between the IRA — the Provisional IRA and the ABCDEFG IRA — is here to today. All that weaponry must be surrendered to the police.

This is my last opportunity to speak to the Assembly. Some of you may be glad to know that I am retiring from politics. I hope that, in the next Assembly, no politician has to stand up and condemn a murderous attack on a police officer. Anyone who is prepared to wear the uniform should get the support of the Assembly.