Police bomb attack: Dissidents ‘haven’t learned lessons of Lyra McKee murder’

Police at Shandon Park on Saturday after the device was discovered
Police at Shandon Park on Saturday after the device was discovered
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The dissident republicans behind an attempt to kill a police officer “should have learned” from the backlash following the murder of Lyra McKee, a DUP Policing Board member has said.

East Belfast MLA Joanne Bunting, speaking after a bomb described as “sophisticated” by the PSNI was placed under an officer’s car at Shandon Park golf club on Saturday, highlighted the public “disgust” following Ms McKee’s death and warned: “We’re not going to be dragged back.”

Assistant Chief Constable George Clarke said it was 'extraordinarily fortunate' that we weren't talking about the murder of an officer

Assistant Chief Constable George Clarke said it was 'extraordinarily fortunate' that we weren't talking about the murder of an officer

Police have launched a cross-border investigation after the latest attempt to kill a PSNI officer.

Ms Bunting said: “This is a second attempt to murder a police officer in recent months – the first of which, of course, ended in tragedy with the murder of Lyra McKee.”

There was significant public outrage after Ms McKee was killed when a gunman opened fire at police during rioting in Londonderry in April.

Ms Bunting added: “You would have thought from the backlash following that that these people would have learned their lesson, but no. We’re not going to be dragged back. Dissident republicans need to learn that the IRA didn’t win and neither will they.”

Assistant Chief Constable George Clarke said: “We are extraordinarily fortunate that we are not talking about the murder of a police officer, of members of his family or members of the public passing a bomb that has been planted recklessly, cruelly and viciously under his motor car.

“I cannot understand what cause is advanced by attempting to murder a man who day in, day out seeks to serve his community.”

Shandon Park Golf Club in east Belfast, with about 70 people present, was evacuated after staff were alerted on Saturday afternoon.

The officer who discovered the device was in the habit of checking his vehicle.

Families and children were at the golf club.

Assistant Chief Constable Clarke spoke to the officer yesterday morning.

“He is obviously shaken by the fact that people chose to attempt to murder him and were reckless in what they would have done to him and his family,” he said.

“We will do our best to support him and to ensure that he is helped through what will be a very difficult and very traumatic time in the days to come.”

Detectives say they want to trace a Dublin-registered green Skoda Octavia and are working with their counterparts in the Republic.

Detective Superintendent Sean Wright, head of the terrorism investigation unit, said: “This was a viable device, it contained explosives. It was designed to kill.”

Ms Bunting, speaking about the dissident republicans believed to be behind the murder bid, said: “If these people think that the people of east Belfast, or the people of Northern Ireland as a whole, are going to be cowed and intimidated by terrorists and gangsters then they’re wrong.

“The more they do this, the more support for the PSNI rightly increases.”

Another East Belfast MLA, the UUP’s Andy Allen, said: “These criminals who are hell-bent on dragging Northern Ireland back to the bad days of the past will not be allowed to succeed. These are the despicable actions of cowards.”

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said: “Those within the ragged rump of dissident republicanism who continue to violate the sovereign authority of the people of this island must be faced down.

“They claim they are in a fight with ‘British Crown Forces’. They are not. Their fight is with us, all the people who have endorsed peace.”