Belfast Telegraph

Evil attack ‘won’t force Catholics to quit police’

By Lesley-Anne Henry

Catholics will not be deterred from joining the PSNI because of the terror attack on Constable Ronan Kerr, the Police Federation has said.

The 25-year-old recruit died when an undercar booby trap device detonated as he set off for a nightshift in Enniskillen on Saturday.

The murder, which happened just days after the PSNI’s 50-50 recruitment policy ended on March 28, is the latest killing in a bitter campaign of violence specifically targeting Catholic officers.

Last January, Constable Peadar Heffron suffered serious leg injuries when an undercar bomb exploded about a mile from his home in Randalstown.

And in Kilkeel, a Catholic female officer had a narrow escape when a bomb fell off her car last August.

Despite the dangers Constable Kerr, one of a new generation of officers, signed up to serve his community.

Yesteday Terry Spence, chairman of the Police Federation said his police colleagues were resolved to carrying out their duties regardless of the intimidation.

“Over the last two or three years who have had police officers attacked both on and off duty,” he said.

“Up until Saturday’s atrocity we had one murdered, Constable Stephen Carroll, and others injured.

“The reality is that they make no difference.

“I do not believe anyone will resign because of this attack. There was no evidence that happened in the past.

“I have spoken to many police officers and the message which is very clearly emerging is that they are adamant that this will not detract them from their job.”

Almost a third of officers in the PSNI are now Catholic compared to the RUC, which was largely Protestant.

In recent years the dissidents have been trying to stoke up old fears and divisions.

Constable Carroll, a Catholic, was the first PSNI officer murdered since the force was formed in 2001.

Northern Ireland Policing Board member Basil McCrea said he hoped the terrorists would not succeed.

“These things are planned for a long time,” he said.

“They watch people and look for the right opportunity.

“I certainly think it is designed to put Catholics off joining the police but I hope it does not succeed and I do not think it will.”

Meanwhile, Jimmy Spratt, a former Police Federation Chairman, added: “The murder of Constable Kerr is consistent with the warnings that the PSNI have been saying to the board.

“The threat is severe and they were intent on murdering a Catholic officer.

“This is an attempt to drive Catholics out of the service. I hope that it won’t be the case.

“I am absolutely disgusted.

“This senseless act and will achieve nothing.

“The whole community is repulsed.”

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