NI Bomb Attack: Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill unite to condemn attempted murder of female PSNI officer in Dungiven

First Minister Arlene Foster has paid tribute to the female PSNI officer at the centre of a bomb alert in Co Londonderry.

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 12:46 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 5:45 pm

Mrs Foster has spoken with the officer following the discovery of the suspicious object outside a property on the Ballyquinn Road in Dungiven

The alert was raised on Monday morning and a major security operation was put into place.

On Tuesday, Mrs Foster tweeted: “I have spoken to the police officer who was targeted by terrorists last night in County Londonderry.

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PSNI vehicles block a road during a security operation which has been ongoing since Monday on the Ballyquin Road , close to Dungiven, pIC: Niall Carson/PA Wire

“I wanted to convey our support and utter condemnation of those who sought to harm her & her family. Reckless and futile. We salute her bravery and long service to our community.”

Also on Twitter, deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “The attempted murder of a police officer near Dungiven is reprehensible. Those involved in this attack will not succeed in their regressive and toxic agenda.

“All politicians must unite against these reckless actions. We must keep building the peace for our children.”

ACC Mark McEwan, Head of the PSNI’s Crime Operations Department, said: “I can confirm that the device is viable and investigations are ongoing to establish the full circumstances.

“We are treating this as an attack on a member of staff who also serves her community as a part time police officer.”

Secretary of State Brandon Lewis described the attempted murder as “absolutely abhorrent,” and added: “I completely condemn the actions of those involved. Those who try to attack public servants have nothing to offer the communities they claim to represent.

“I want to convey my support for the officer concerned.”

Ulster Unionist Party leader Steve Aiken has also condemned the attack.

“Today we have learned that another police officer has been targeted for murder, this time just outside Dungiven,” he said.

“There must be no hiding place for those who seek to murder police officers or use violence in pursuit of any political objectives.

“The police exist to serve and protect the entire community. As a society we must never grow immune to the horror of having our police officers targeted for murder.

“I appeal to anyone who can help in any way to catch the people responsible for this latest outrage, to come forward at once and get these terrorists off the streets and behind bars where they can do no more harm.”

DUP MP Gregory Campbell and his party colleague and Policing Board member Mervyn Storey have also condemned those behind the attack.

East Londonderry MP Mr Campbell said, “Attacks on the lives of police officers are wrong now and have always been so, they must be condemned. Wider society needs to stand united against the perpetrators and help bring them to justice.

“Those warped tactics did not succeed in the past and they cannot be allowed to succeed now. It is essential that a united and clear message goes out that terrorism is never justified and must always be condemned. I would appeal for anyone with information to pass it to the police.”

Mr Storey said: “This was an obvious attempt to murder a police officer and it is a stark reminder of the threat all those who keep us safe still face.

“Those who attempt to use violence, threat and intimidation to achieve their aims have no place in our society and must be brought to justice.

“My thoughts are with the officer and her family at this time and with all those officers on the frontline who serve so courageously and deserve our full and unequivocal support.”

Sinn Fein member of the Policing Board Gerry Kelly added his own condemnation.

He said: “The discovery of a device under the car of a young female police officer near Dungiven is disgraceful and I condemn it utterly.

“Thankfully she wasn’t hurt but we could have been facing a very different scenario. This could have seriously injured or killed this young woman or anyone in the nearby area.”

Mr Kelly added: “At a time of increased community tensions this is the last thing that anyone wants to see.

“Those behind this reckless attack have absolutely nothing to offer society but more suffering and there have shown a callous disregard for the entire community.

“They need to bring their futile actions to an end.

“I appeal for anyone with information on this attack to report it to the police.”

SDLP MLA Cara Hunter said: “I fully condemn the attack on the private home of a serving police officer. No one should have to live in fear of going to work.

“Our officers in the PSNI risk their lives every day protecting every community; upholding the rule of law in Northern Ireland.”

Ms Hunter added: “This is an attack on the community, and actions of these people are not welcome in our society. My thoughts are with the officer and their family.”

Announcing the road closure, the PSNI said: “The Ballyquinn Road, Dungiven is closed at the junctions with the Camnish Road and the Curragh Road this morning (Monday 19th April), following a report of a suspicious object in the area.

“Motorists are advised to avoid the area and seek alternative main routes for their journey.”

Shortly before midnight, a further police statement said that the road was expected to remain closed for some time.

TUV East Londonderry representative Jordan Armstrong said: “The attempted murder of a young female police officer near Dungiven is reprehensible. We can all be thankful that the device did not kill or injure her or indeed anyone in the area.

“Once again we have had a reminder of the threat posed by republican terrorism to our community.”

Mr Armstrong added: “It is also important to remember that such actions are not just wrong in 2021 but have always been wrong. Murderous attacks on the security forces were never justified.

The elevation to the heart of government of those who cannot make that simple, basic moral point is a stain on our society.”

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