Cross-party support for PSNI boss Baggott who faced tough challenges

Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Matt Baggott.
Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Matt Baggott.

Both unionist and nationalist politicians have paid tribute to Matt Baggott for the way he performed his role during a challenging period for Northern Ireland.

DUP Policing Board member Jonathan Craig MLA said the outgoing chief constable had carried out his duties “with sincerity and warmth”.

Mr Craig said that although his party did not always agree with Mr Baggott’s policing decisions, they found him willing to listen to their views.

“The chief constable’s job is one of the most difficult in Northern Ireland and Mr Baggott tried his best to serve our community and make our society a safer, better place. We wish him well in his retirement,” Mr Craig added.

The SDLP’s Dolores Kelly also praised the chief constable following his decision to step down.

“Matt Baggott’s strong focus on community policing and track record of making the most of limited resources made him the best person to take the helm of the organisation in a turbulent time. His 37 years in policing have served him in good stead at the top of the PSNI and many will appreciate the genuine sincerity he showed to those who came to him with concerns about policing.”

Following what she called the PSNI’s often “slow, at times timid, response” to loyalist protests, the Upper Bann MLA said: “The focus now must shift to restoring strong, stable leadership to the PSNI in the wake of both the chief constable and the deputy chief constable’s announcements that they will be leaving the organisation.”

Alliance Policing Board member Chris Lyttle said the “positive results” of Matt Baggott’s work on community policing can now be seen.

“The PSNI have faced a difficult period with sustained outbreaks of public disorder in the past 18 months but Matt has showed courage and leadership in the face of difficult circumstances. I look forward to an orderly and timely process to appoint a new chief constable.”

Trevor Ringland of NI Conservatives said Mr Baggott deserves our gratitude for his efforts.

“It would be a fitting tribute if the political parties at Stormont were to back the rule of law without equivocation for the rest of his tenure and give his successor their proper backing, as the PSNI, like the RUC before it, continues to serve the people of Northern Ireland with professionalism and bravery,” he said.