Belfast Telegraph

Mark Lindsay: We must do everything in our power to stop those who seek to bring us back to darkness of past

Mark Lindsay
Mark Lindsay

By Mark Lindsay

With the events of Monday morning in Fermanagh and with recent attempts to kill my colleagues in Craigavon and east Belfast, it is difficult not to begin to despair both as a police officer and a member of our community, at the lengths some will go to in dragging us back to dark days of the past.

In recent weeks and months, we have seen the undoubted intent of dissident groups being matched with an increased capability to carry out such attacks.

The methodology and the tactics are reminiscent of days gone by. Dark days, where police officers, military, prison officers and large numbers of civilians were routinely murdered by those intent on pushing a political agenda by violent means. Unfortunately, we have become reacquainted with the tactic of using hoax devices to lure us into an area for secondary devices to be initiated or discovered.

Only the professionalism of our colleagues and the military has prevented certain loss of life.

The recklessness of leaving unstable improvised explosive devices in areas whereby members of the public could be killed is reprehensible. There is no excuse whatsoever for the actions of terrorists in putting any life at risk.

The fact that this morning, we are not planning a funeral of a colleague is down to both tried and trusted professional policing in such situations and indeed good fortune. Our vigilance continues to be heightened following these terrorist attacks, and with good reason. The threat level is rated 'severe' and it has been for 10 years or so with little let-up and no prospect of respite. Police don't take risks with peoples lives.

Risks to our own lives and to those of the public. Inevitably that causes disruption to local communities, which no one wants.

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People have to endure great inconvenience to their routine and many feel distressed.

What our society so desperately needs is political stability. Local politicians need to follow up their condemnation of such attacks with a determination to re-establish the Executive at Stormont.

In the absence of devolved structures, a dangerous vacuum has developed, which is being exploited by terrorists who have nothing else to offer.

To the community I address this appeal: isolate those responsible and help us apprehend and bring them before the courts, so that we can all live civilised peaceful lives and get on with building a lasting peace without the shadow of terrorism.

Mark Lindsay is chair of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland

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