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Opinion: Despicable attempts to prevent more representative policing

Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill and senior party colleague Gerry Kelly attended a PSNI recruitment event last week. Picture: Policing Board/Twitter 
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The prospect of a more representative police service has clearly rattled dissident republicans who have resorted to their familiar tactics of intimidation and threats in a bid to deter young Catholics from joining the PSNI.

This bullying has taken different forms in recent days but the ultimate aim is to derail the latest police recruitment drive.

In particular, the attendance of Sinn Féin vice president Michelle O'Neill and Gerry Kelly MLA at the recruitment campaign launch last week has angered dissident elements.

Earlier this week the deputy first minister was informed that police had received intelligence of a plan to attack both her and her party colleague.

Ms O'Neill said they would be taking precautions to protect themselves and their families but emphasised they would not be deterred from 'trying to build a better society'.

It is appalling that anyone would plot against elected representatives encouraging support for a police service that has undergone major reform with now well established oversight and accountability structures.

Dissidents are entitled to disagree but they should make their case through reasoned debate, not threats of violence.

Similarly, there can be no possible excuse for the vile posters which appeared in Derry in recent days, featuring an image of maimed police officer Peadar Heffron, who suffered life-changing injuries after a booby-trap bomb exploded under his car.

Anyone wondering just how low the dissidents are prepared to stoop will have their answer in these disgusting posters.

Not only are they heartless and cruel, they are also deeply sinister, plainly suggesting that Catholic recruits face the same fate.

In another menacing act, a banner was erected outside the Andersonstown News in west Belfast, which has carried PSNI recruitment advertisements.

The dissidents are nothing more than thugs, using fear and intimidation and the threat of violence to stop young nationalists from pursuing a career in policing.

It is a despicable approach and only makes sense to criminals who of course want to undermine the forces of law and order, the very people that have the power to investigate and thwart their activities.

 

Security alerts linked to loyalists in north Belfast yesterday must also be roundly condemned. As we have seen, such actions are entirely counter-productive in terms of influencing the democratic process.

 

 

 

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