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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 Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP 12:15 pm, 23rd January 2017

Last night was a stark reminder of what many of us grew up with in this country and what many of us heard all the time in news reports: murders and attempted murders. First, I wish the police officer well in his recovery; we are thankful that his injuries are not life-threatening.

This has not been a success for those who set out last night. Success for them means the same outcome as happened with Constable Carroll, David Black and Adrian Ismay and, indeed, civilians who have been targeted by the same individuals. What stands as a stark reminder to us all is that, this time 10 years ago, we were discussing with our members and the wider public the outcome of the St Andrews negotiations and whether we should proceed into government with Sinn Féin, which was a hugely difficult decision for us. We took the decision to do so because we did not want to go back; we wanted to go forward.

We are now in a similar circumstance in Northern Ireland, where, perhaps, others have greater problems, but the question that has to be posed is this: are we going to back or are we going to go forward? Instability creates vacuums, and evil people step into those vacuums. I think that it is incumbent upon each and every one of us to commit ourselves to ensuring that we, for all the problems and wrongs of Stormont, continue to provide stability and leadership and continue to be there for the people of Northern Ireland, because we have had the awful, horrible, bloody past that I have had to grow up in, and I do not want my children or grandchildren to grow up in that environment. I want the people who carry out the likes of the shooting last night to be marginalised, sidelined and incarcerated and to serve very long sentences for what they do, not given the opportunity to go out to carry out more of this in the name of Ireland or of any other cause.