POLITICIANS have been united in their messages of condolence for the police officer who lost her life on Saturday morning after the patrol car in which she was travelling was struck by a stolen vehicle.
The First and Deputy First Minister extended their sympathy to the family of 27-year-old Philippa Reynolds, and wished her two colleagues, also injured in the collision, a speedy and full recovery.
In a joint statement, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness said: “Officers in the PSNI put their lives at risk on a daily basis to serve and protect our community and we are all truly grateful for their dedicated service.
“Those who commit a crime such as vehicle theft must realise their actions can have serious consequences. We urge anyone with information to go to the police.”
Theresa Villiers, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said it was “a tragic waste of a young life in sad and reckless circumstances”. “Constable Reynolds died as she went about her job keeping people safe in the community she served,” she said. “I send my sincerest condolences to her bereaved family and colleagues.”
Tributes also came from south of the border. Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said there was “a strong and deepening relationship between the Gardaí and the PSNI and I know the thoughts and prayers of gardaí across the country will be with the officer’s family and her colleagues”.
PC Reynolds had been “carrying out her duties serving the community in the middle of the night,” said Justice Minister David Ford. “My thoughts and prayers are with her family at this time.
“This is not the first time we have seen death and injury resulting from car crime. I call on those engaged in this crime to reflect on the consequences of their actions and stop this senseless activity.”
Vice-chairman of the Justice Committee and Sinn Fein MLA for Foyle Raymond McCartney also expressed his condolences to the family of the young policewoman.
The SDLP MP for Foyle, Mark Durkan, said he was “saddened” by news of the policewoman’s death.
“My sympathies go out to her family and friends at this very difficult time, as they struggle to come to terms with this tragic news,” he said.
“My thoughts are also with the wider police family who have lost both a friend and a colleague.
“The shock felt across the community will be matched with disgust that such criminal activity has led to this tragic death.”
Chairman of the Policing Board Brian Rea said it was a “terrible blow” for the PSNI.
His views were echoed by other board members. DUP MLA Jonathan Craig described the death as “deeply distressing”, while Ulster Unionist MLA Ross Hussey said the police deserved “our full support” as “they put themselves in harm’s way to protect the whole community”.
Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly said “death drivers” were a “scourge on our society and this incident is the latest example of the misery they inflict through their criminal behaviour”.
The death showed “the fatal consequences of car crime”, said Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson.