Belfast Telegraph

DUP's Campbell calls for leadership from Catholic community on policing

The DUP's Gregory Campbell has called for leadership from the Catholic community on policing in Northern Ireland.

The East Londonderry MP was speaking after the story of a police officer from Londonderry emerged in the media, saying nationalist and republican politicians "need to move beyond sound bites".

Speaking to BBC Radio Foyle during the week the officer said he had cut ties with some members of his family for their safety, and it had made it difficult for him to return to his home city.

"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," the officer said.

In a statement on Tuesday, Mr Campbell said he wished to see a police service which was broadly representative of the backgrounds of the people living in Northern Ireland and said the report was "deeply alarming but sadly unsurprising".

"Institutionalised sectarianism within the nationalist and republican community has been used as an excuse for attacks on officers," he said.

"Political and civic leadership is needed. If we want a society that moves away from violence, intimidation and fear then accepting the rule of law and those there to uphold it – the police - must be the starting point," he said.

"Nationalist and republican parties need to move beyond sound bites and advocate the police as a career option for people from the Catholic community, and stand with those who apply to join.

"Peadar Heffron, who joined the police and suffered grievously as a result of a car bomb attack, was ostracised by his GAA club and could not take part in activities as a result of his career path. This is not the way forward for any society."

Mr Campbell also noted Chief Constable George Hamilton had told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee in June of this year that losing friends and family was one of the reasons Catholics were not joining the PSNI in greater numbers.

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