MLA calls for ‘solidarity’ with police over terror threat

The device which was placed under the police officer's car
The device which was placed under the police officer's car

A DUP MLA has called for solidarity with police in the face of attempts to “put fear into the community” following the anniversary of a bomb attack on a PSNI officer.

Foyle MLA Gary Middleton, speaking after police issued a renewed appeal for information on the first anniversary of the attempted murder of an off-duty officer in Londonderry on February 22 last year, described the attack as an attempt to “encourage people not to join the PSNI”.

The officer was at home with his family in the Ardanlee area of Culmore when an improvised explosive device was placed under his car during the hours of darkness.

The device failed to detonate and was discovered in the driveway of the officer’s home after he had driven off.

The officer leading the investigation, Detective Inspector Peter McKenna, said: “If this device had exploded with our colleague and his young family in the car it would have had devastating consequences.”

He added: “I believe the New IRA are responsible for this attack and they simply didn’t care that his children or partner could also have been in the vehicle with him. He is not just a police officer in a uniform – he is also a father, a brother and a devoted family man who puts on his uniform every day to serve the local community that he is a part of.”

Mr Middleton, speaking about the attack, said: “I suppose the aim of those who target police officers is to put fear into the community and encourage people not to apply to join the PSNI.”

He added: “The communinty needs to stand with the police at this time and ensure that they do get the information they need to bring these people to justice. The unfortunate thing is that the likelihood is that these people are now walking the streets amongst us, and that is deeply concerning.”

DI McKenna said the bomb attack last year is linked to an earlier attempt to “lure” officers to their death.

He said: “The investigation into this attempted murder is progressing – we have arrested four people and searched four properties – but as yet no one has been charged. We have also been able to link the device used in this attack with a previous incident in Ballyarnett Village on October 13, 2014 when unsubstantiated reports of a burglary and subsequent bomb warning calls led us to conclude at that time that the sequence of events was a deliberate attempt to lure police officers into the area to try and murder them.”

He said the New IRA are thought to be behind both attacks.