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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 12:00 pm on 23rd January 2017.

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Photo of Doug Beattie Doug Beattie UUP 12:00 pm, 23rd January 2017

I am sure that the House will join me in condemning the indiscriminate shooting and attempted murder of a police officer in north Belfast. It was a cowardly act that brings nothing to society and furthers no cause. What it does do is that it inflicts misery on a community that has already suffered so much, and all they want to do is live in peace, as we all do. This attack was carried out by thugs, by criminals, by career terrorists; but let us not think of them as some rogue element, because this attempted murder was rooted in one community or the other. It will have taken months in the planning. There will have been intelligence teams to watch the police and their movements. There will have been somebody who supplied the gun and somebody who supplied the car. There will have been lookouts, and there will have been scouts, not to mention the person who drove the car and not to mention the person who pulled the trigger. In pulling the trigger, he endangered not just the police officers but every single person who was in that forecourt and well beyond. High-velocity rounds are indiscriminate. They will enter the body through muscle and tissue. The round will break bone, and it will keep going. It will ricochet off concrete, it will ricochet off structures, it will penetrate walls, it will penetrate windows, and it will penetrate men, women and children who are in that area.

To spray an area with 24 high-velocity rounds is an absolute and utter disgrace, and it is incumbent on all of us here today — it is good to see all of us represented here today — to have a single and united voice and to watch our language.

We should watch our language and our words because we do not want to raise tensions in our community. We have to be careful about what we say. I want to know where the weapon came from for the shooting yesterday. Was it a new weapon? If so, where did it come from? If it is an old weapon — a decommissioned weapon — I want to know. I also want to know whether anybody involved — it will have taken many people — is on licence, and, if it is proven that they were involved, they should be returned to prison immediately.