The people behind a booby-trap bomb attack on a police officer in the North are wedded to the politics of the dinosaur, a senior member of Sinn Féin claimed today.
As MLAs used for the first time a new Northern Ireland Assembly mechanism to condemn last night’s attack, junior minister Gerry Kelly said incidents like the attempted murder in Spamount, Co Tyrone, were being carried out by tiny dangerous groups.
“Let us be clear they have no support in the community whatsoever,” the North Belfast MLA said.
“They have no support anywhere, in my opinion, in Ireland and they are attempting to bring us all backwards. In this they will fail. Their threats will fail not only against the police but against politicians and others.
“And whatever age they might be – the perpetrators of this – they have the politics of the dinosaur. Everyone else has moved forward and they are attempting to move back.”
The booby-trap device exploded under the policeman’s car last night as he drove through the village of Spamount, near Castlederg on his way to start night duty.
Members of the public who dragged the injured officer from his burning car were praised by Chief Constable Hugh Orde for their actions.
The attack was raised in the Assembly by Democratic Unionist Environment Minister Arlene Foster who described those responsible as societal deviants.
Mrs Foster told MLAs: "A young police officer making his way to his work in Fermanagh to serve and protect - as the motto of the Police Service of Northern Ireland says - the people of that county, was targeted in a heinous way and a booby trap was placed under his car.
“Speaking to the Divisional Commander this morning I am told the officer is very fortunate to be alive and probably owes his life to those quick-thinking members of the public who bravely pulled him from the burning vehicle.
“Words cannot convey my disgust and that of my party at the events last night. I ask this House to join with me from every side to condemn these actions, to empathise with the officer and his family, to commend those who assisted the officer after the bomb exploded, to call on those in the community who have information to bring it to the police and finally to send a very clear message from this place that this sort of despicable behaviour by societal deviants such as these will not be tolerated by the people of Northern Ireland.”
Ulster Unionist deputy leader Danny Kennedy said it was a source of great relief that the officer was saved from the burning wreckage of the car.
However he also expressed concern about the type of device used.
“There is some concern that the technical nature of the bomb is of a very dangerous type and that is a worrying departure,” the Newry and Armagh MLA said.
“I hope very much the PSNI with the assistance of the local community will get enough information to bring those responsible to book for this.”
Outside the chamber, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness described the attack as spiteful, selfish and futile.
The Sinn Féin MP said: “It was conducted by people who have no mandate. They certainly have no strategy whatsoever and clearly they represent no-one.
“There is a duty, a responsibility on everyone within society and indeed anyone who has information about this particular attack, to give the information to the police as quickly as possible.”
The Mid Ulster MP said there was a possibility republican dissidents could strike again but he insisted they would not undermine the political institutions.
“Within recent months they have actually described me as a legitimate target,” the Mid Ulster MP said.
“We are not going to bow to them or anyone else, we are going to continue to represent people.”
DUP junior minister Jeffrey Donaldson said there would be no place in the future of Northern Ireland for those who fail to support the police and the rule of law.
“Let there be a clear message,” the Lagan Valley MP said.
“We will not be shaken by the violence of republican elements, we will not be held back from our determination to build a better future for everyone.
“Democracy will be upheld in Northern Ireland. There is a threat there, the security services are capable of dealing with that threat and they will.”