Brandon Lewis Condemns "Abhorrent" Attempted Murder Of Police Officer In Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis and other political leaders have condemned the attempted murder of a police officer amid continued unrest in the province.
Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) on Tuesday confirmed an explosive device had been found under the car of a female police officer in Dungiven, county Derry on Monday evening.
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".
McEwan later added that an explosive device attached to a container of flammable liquid was found at the rear of the victim's car below where her three-year-old daughter would sit.
"This was designed to cause a fireball which would have engulfed the victim's car, anyone in it or anyone close by, anyone close to the house or anyone within the proximity," he said.
He added that while the investigation was in its early stages the PSNI had a "strong line of inquiry" that the attempted murder was "the work of the new IRA".
Lewis, who is under pressure to convene an emergency summit with the government in Ireland amid weeks of violence in the province, said: "The attempted murder of this police officer is absolutely abhorrent. 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".
Louise Haigh, the shadow Northern Ireland secretary, said the attempted murder was "utterly sickening".The incident follows violent protests on the streets of in Northern Ireland in recent weeks, fuelled by loyalist frustration over the contentious decision of authorities not to prosecute Sinn Fein politicians who attended the funeral of former IRA chief Bobby Storey, the PSNI's crackdown on paramilitary gangs, and Brexit's impact on the province's relationship with the rest of the UK.
Young protesters have thrown petrol bombs and bricks at police officers and at the height of the recent violence set fire to a gate separating loyalist and nationalist communities, in what local politicians have described as the most serious unrest Northern Ireland has witnessed in decades.
Northern Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster tweeted that she had spoken to the police officer "targeted by terrorists" on Monday night.
"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," she said.
Michelle O'Neill, the deputy fist minister, said the attempted murder was "reprehensible".
She tweeted: "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".