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Editor's Viewpoint

Depraved tactic puts dissidents in the past

Editor's Viewpoint


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Peadar Heffron

Peadar Heffron

Stephen Hamilton

Peadar Heffron

The use of posters featuring a grievously injured PSNI officer as a means of intimidating young Catholics from joining the force is a disgusting tactic, even for dissident republicans who hold no one's life dear.

Constable Peadar Heffron lost a leg and suffered other life-changing injuries when an car bomb exploded beneath his vehicle in 2010.

In spite of his rank he was a fairly high profile member of the PSNI and was obviously targeted by dissidents because of his religion and as a warning to other Catholics to choose a different career.

Not content with almost taking his life a decade ago, dissidents this week put up posters showing his injuries in another attempt to deter Catholics from joining the police.

It is clear that the dissidents fear a truly representative police force in Northern Ireland as they also issued threats this week against Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O'Neill and the party's Policing Board representative Gerry Kelly who for the first time had attended the launch of a police recruiting programme.

The number of Catholics in the PSNI - although much higher than those in the old RUC - has stalled, or even slipped back a little in recent years to a figure of around 32%. On population statistics it should be closer to 45% and there have been recent calls for the 50/50 recruitment policy to be reintroduced.

What must be emphasised is the courage of every officer in the PSNI to join the force and serve all the people of Northern Ireland. They know that dissidents, although small in numbers, are determined to kill officers and a number of attempts have been thwarted in recent times.

The courage of the officers stands in stark contrast to the dissidents who skulk in the shadows and send impressionable young people out to do their dirty work. These micro-groups have no coherent political ideology and seem merely content to attempt to kill officers, whatever the consequences to other people.

It is encouraging that their dastardly poster campaign - which was hurriedly withdrawn - has been roundly condemned right across the political spectrum. It is that sort of leadership which this community needs as it attempts to create an inclusive future in which a representative police force is a vital lynchpin.

To the dissidents the message is clear - your day has gone, you are the past.

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