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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 12:30 pm on 23rd January 2017.

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Photo of Trevor Lunn Trevor Lunn Alliance 12:30 pm, 23rd January 2017

I join everybody else who has spoken in utter condemnation of a cowardly attack on a police officer; attempted murder; bullets sprayed across a petrol station forecourt. I do not think that whoever did this cared whether there was collateral damage, somebody else injured or a gas tank or a fuel explosion. They are indifferent to those kinds of things.

I understand from the media this morning that, 43 years ago, there was an attack on virtually the same spot and two civilians were killed. Now, 43 years on, we are still seeing bullets flying on the Crumlin Road — shot by somebody who, clearly, has a different view of the future of the state of Northern Ireland and has nothing whatsoever to offer our society in terms of progress or sensible thought.

Nowadays, the PSNI can operate with reasonable freedom with regard to their own security. They are able to use petrol stations and takeaways. The reason for that is that they have achieved the confidence of the community, and the community, generally, has accepted that they operate without fear or favour. That actually assists a dissident — if it was a dissident — in being able to mount this kind of attack. I completely agree with Mr Beattie that one person could not have done this on their own. The Chief Constable said the same thing this morning. It has to be a gang; it has to be organised.

I hope that the person or persons responsible can be brought to justice. I pray for the full recovery of the young police officer. I hope that it does not put his colleagues off in any way, and I hope it does not put off other young people who would like to join the force, because that is the last thing we need, and it would be a success for the people who did this.