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Bomb squad deserve medal after terrorists target PSNI officer, UUP's Doug Beattie

By Donna Deeney

The Army bomb squad in Northern Ireland should be honoured with a medal, a Military Cross recipient has said in the wake of the latest attempt to kill a PSNI officer.

Ulster Unionist Assembly candidate Doug Beattie made the call after Ammunition Technical Officers (ATO) were tasked to deal with the deadly booby-trap bomb placed under the car of a policeman in Londonderry on Wednesday.

The bomb left at Ardanlee in the Culmore area exploded just as the bomb disposal team prepared to defuse it.

Mr Beattie praised the efforts of the team and called for the ATOs to be awarded the General Service Medal (GSM) for their heroic work. The Upper Bann candidate said the murder bid on the officer "was a vile and indiscriminate act by those with no regard for the community".

He added: "In targeting the police officer they also targeted men, women and children who could have been in the vicinity of the detonation and suffered serious injury.

"The fact they were not was pure luck and good fortune.

"Each incident they are called to attend potentially involves deadly devices that could kill or seriously maim.

"It is a high risk role and a specialised skill that helps keep the people of Northern Ireland safe from these dissident republican psychopaths.

"We owe these men and women a great debt of gratitude and personally I believe they should receive a GSM for their service in Northern Ireland. I have therefore asked my colleague Tom Elliott MP to lobby the Secretary of State for Defence Sir Michael Fallon MP to take the necessary steps to instigate such an award."

The police officer targeted is believed to be a Catholic and his family was yesterday receiving help from the PSNI to deal with the trauma they had suffered after discovering the device outside their home.

Chairman of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, Mark Lindsay, said PSNI officers have to deal with unique pressures.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Lindsay explained: "Police officers are no different to anyone else in their community, they are ordinary people who happen to put on a uniform to do their job.

"What is different is that unlike anyone else in the community, their lives are under constant threat, as we saw with the despicable attack on the police officer this week.

"That threat doesn't go away if an officer takes off their uniform and only for the regular safety training provided and vigilance that has prevented a murder.

"That is something that is unique to officers in Northern Ireland and something that the politicians should be mindful of when considering budget cuts to the Chief Constable."

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