Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

PSNI chief: I pray that dissidents will renounce violence

Northern Ireland's Chief Constable has revealed that he has prayed for dissident republicans who remain wedded to violence.

Dissident groups opposed to the peace process have focused their attacks on officers from the PSNI.

But Matt Baggott, who has been open about the importance of his Christian beliefs, said he prayed for those responsible.

“I do pray for the dissidents, yes I do,” he said.

“I ask God to take the scales off their eyes so they actually become people and their families have a future that is about anything other than violence and rage and bitterness and anger.

“So they free themselves up to play their part in the right way in the future in Northern Ireland and I think that's a prayer that I share with many other people in Northern Ireland and many people in the South (of Ireland) and many, many churches here, but we should be praying for people who are trapped in the cycle of violence and anger.”

Mr Baggott, a 51-year-old father-of-three, is a born again Christian and is president of the Christian Police Association.

In an appearance on BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan Show, the former Leicestershire Constabulary chief also fielded a call from a dissident supporter.

Mr Baggott said: “You are obviously a very angry man and I'm sure there are things that have happened in the past that have made you angry and I respect that.

“But when I go to the graduation ceremonies of new recruits, many of whom are Catholic young people doing a fantastic job, they are not joining the PSNI to be part of a British war machine, they are joining to be the impartial guardians of your family and your young people's future.

“The PSNI does not swear allegiance to the Queen, it swears allegiance to the people of Northern Ireland or the North of Ireland, however you want to call it. I have absolutely no political bias whatsoever.

“I cannot get my head around your portrayal of me as a leader of a war machine. Where does that come from?”

He dismissed claims he led a political police force, and added: “We've got to stop this nonsense about the war machine.”

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