In a public show of unity yesterday the First and Deputy First Ministers, the PSNI Chief Constable and the Justice Minister sent out a defiant message that the murder of Catholic police constable Ronan Kerr will not shake the peace process.
Emerging from a morning security briefing at Stormont Castle Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness stood beside Chief Constable Matt Baggott and Justice Minister David Ford to tell dissident republicans that the community, politicians and police on both sides of the border are united against them.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said the dissidents were “enemies of peace and enemies of the people of Ireland”.
“We will remain absolutely united against these totally futile acts. Nothing these people will do will break Peter Robinson's or my determination to ensure that this peace process continues to go from strength to strength.
“We know there is total revulsion right throughout the island about this latest killing. Let the people who perpetrated this be totally and absolutely aware, we are not going away. Our position is one of defiance. We stand here united. There is nothing that can be done to break that. Ultimately we are the people who will prevail,” the Sinn Fein minister added.
In a direct message to the dissidents, First Minister Peter Robinson said: “The community is going to resist you. We will stand against you. We will be united in that stand against you. As far as those of us in Northern Ireland are concerned we intend to defend our institutions. We have spent a long time getting to the new era we have now entered and we are not going back.”
The DUP leader said Constable Kerr’s murder has strengthened the institutions, united the community, brought politicians |closer together and ensured there is a united response in support of the PSNI.
He added: “We have support right across this community for the new era that we have entered and support for the police who are carrying out their activities in the most difficult of circumstances.
Chief Constable Matt Baggott said that Constable Kerr epitomised all that is good about the PSNI.
“The Police Service of Northern Ireland is a genuinely impartial organisation that exists to do good things. I think those good things are epitomised by Ronan and the sacrifice that he has made,” he said.
Mr Baggott added: “Nothing will deflect us from the commission that we have been given — the commission to continue to protect people, to make lives safer, to give our young people a future, to make sure that we have the environment for investment in Northern Ireland.”