The murder of three security force members in the North has been met with a surge in applications from people wanting to join the police, the region’s top officer revealed today.
Hugh Orde said more than 8,500 people have applied for just 440 advertised posts in the Police Service of Northern Ireland since the killings of two British soldiers and a police constable last month.
The Chief Constable said that, while the dissident republican killers responsible may have hoped to scare people away from signing up, particularly those from the Catholic community, their actions have actually had the opposite effect.
He told members of his independent scrutiny body – the Northern Ireland Policing Board – that he expected the number of applications to hit 9,000 before the recruitment period closed later this month.
“The clear evidence is we’re getting more people applying to join us,” he said at the monthly meeting in Belfast.
“Over 8,500 to date and there’s a little time to go so I would confidently predict that over 9,000 people from all ages, from all parts of the community in Northern Ireland, want to join policing and contribute in a very positive way to the fabric of Northern Ireland.”
The applications process opened on Thursday March 5 – only two days before Sappers Mark Quinsey, 23, from Birmingham, and Patrick Azimkar, 21, from London, were gunned down outside the Massereene Army barracks in Antrim as they walked outside the gates to collect pizzas from delivery men.
Two days later, PC Stephen Carroll, 48, was shot dead as he attended a report of a woman in distress in Craigavon, Co Armagh.
Orde said the upturn in applications showed very clearly that the dissidents’ efforts to drag Northern Ireland backwards would not succeed.
“Most people apply online and most of the applications are post those particular crimes,” he explained.
“So people aren’t put off – that’s the message, and I think it’s a very powerful message.”