Belfast Telegraph

Catholic police officer cuts ties with some family members and home city of Derry for the job

A Catholic police officer has described how he has had to cut ties with some family members and his home city of Derry for the job.

But the officer - speaking to BBC Radio Foyle - said it was worth it.

His comments come as the police admit they find difficulty recruiting people to the ranks from a Catholic and nationalist background. In the past, PSNI recruiting events in the north west have been targeted by dissident republicans.

The officer said how in his younger days he spent some time "slagging" the police and felt it time he "put his money where his mouth was" by signing up.

He said he only ever wanted to serve the people of Derry.

"You have to be from the city to understand the people," he told the BBC.

Senior police have said a return of the controversial 50/50 recruitment - which was used to try and balance representation within the PSNI ranks - may have to return in order to get more Catholics on the thin blue line.

The officer said he didn't worry about the perception people had of him as a member of the PSNI, however threats to his family were a worry.

Police in Derry, the man said have had members of their family targeted because they could not get to a certain officer.

The officer said that while his family had never been singled out, "that is not to say never and it is there at the back of your mind".

"Once you join the job, for someone from Derry, it is very hard for them to socialise with family or come back into the city," he said.

"I joined for my reasons ... there are people that are afraid. Lots talk to us and do want to do the job but they are afraid of the comeback with their family living in Derry.

"At the end of the day I weighed up my options and I accepted that. I've made sacrifices including not coming home to Derry, not meeting members of my family and that's not just for myself, that's for my family too. In the past there have been issues, but that is always going to be the case... the job takes up so much of your time and I have my close family."

"There is a perception we bully, harass people and that is not the case. We do things for a reason. Everything is recorded we don't just stop people, we have to have a reason.

"As police officers we get it from both sides.. we just deal with what ever comes before us."

The man said he had a genuine love for the job as a police officer but "you have to be prepared to act". He said there was a need for the political institutions at Stormont to get back up and running to help community development.

"If they can't get it together at Stormont how do we sort it out at grassroots? I always say we have to integrate schools... the only difference is if we go to a church or a chapel and that shouldn't be a major issues that it comes down to religion."

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