Leading article

Peadar Heffron's appalling experience is deeply troubling

Peadar Heffron has spoken in detail for the first time about the devastating injuries he suffered in a dissident republican bomb attack and also how he was `shunned' by his GAA club after joining the PSNI.

The interview with Joe Brolly in the Sunday Independent makes for difficult reading, relaying in graphic terms the horrific consequences of the booby trap device planted under the young officer's car in 2010 and the profound changes he has experienced in his life.

Those changes have not only had a deep and lasting impact on him but also on his wife and wider family circle.

As we know, Mr Heffron lost a leg as a result of the blast but few would have been aware of the extent of his injuries or how close he came to death, or of the battle he has faced in the years following the murder bid.

There will be enormous sympathy for Mr Heffron and all that he has endured.

The attempt to kill him was a despicable and wholly indefensible crime.

Although the wider GAA was supportive of policing reforms, one of the most troubling aspects of this interview is the hostility Mr Heffron experienced from within his local club, Creggan Kickhams, when he decided to join the newly-formed PSNI.

He is bitter at the lack of support he received from Creggan after the bomb attack, despite the close links both he and his father had with the club.

All this clearly hurts and this is completely understandable.

We need to remember that Peadar Heffron was among the young Catholics encouraged to join the PSNI which was a new beginning to policing in the north with independent oversight and accountability structures.

It took courage to do so then and it still does today.

A police force needs to reflect the entire community it serves, not just selected parts.

Coincidentally, the PSNI has launched a recruitment drive, particularly seeking Catholic applicants.

Peadar Heffron's experience tells us that potential recruits need to be supported not just within the police service but also within the community they come from.

 

 

 

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