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Statement by Minister Martin on Northern Ireland

The Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin T.D. today called for this weekend’s parades in Derry and the Ardoyne to take place in a calm and peaceful atmosphere. He called for an immediate end to the targeting of PSNI officers and in particular the disgusting and sectarian targeting of Catholic PSNI officers. He also called for political and community leaders and the family, friends and communities of PSNI officer to give them their full and unreserved support. The Minister said:

“I have been extremely concerned at the violence which has taken place over recent weeks in Northern Ireland, directed at PSNI officers and against the very communities which those responsible somehow claim to represent.

Ahead of Saturday’s scheduled parade through the city by the Apprentice Boys of Derry, and the feeder parade in the Ardoyne, I would appeal to all sides of the community to ensure that all events take place in a calm and peaceful atmosphere. I call on all community leaders, and more importantly, parents, to make sure your children and teenagers are kept out of trouble and harm’s way.

Undoubtedly, the current security environment is serious. I am particularly conscious of the difficult situation faced by PSNI officers and their families. Threats and dangers against them have become acute over recent weeks.

On behalf of the Irish Government, let me once again be crystal clear: there be can no justification whatsoever for threats of any description against any PSNI officer. The targeting of any officer on grounds of their religion is a disgusting and sectarian attack against them and against genuine republican values. We have fought long and hard and successfully to transform policing through the implementation of the Patten Report. The large increase in the number of Catholic police officers has been one of the key achievements of this transformation.

Those Catholic police officers who have joined deserve the full and unreserved support of all political leaders, national and local, and more importantly, deserve the full and unreserved support of their families, friends and communities. As the overwhelming majority of decent citizens of this island have made clear, it is long past time that a full and final stop should be put to the use of violence and terrorism against anyone, in particular PSNI officers doing their job.

PSNI officers working in the service of their communities deserve our thanks and full support. Yet another example of such service was evident last week as officers brought people to safety from the explosive device left outside Strand Road PSNI station, at grave risk to themselves.

I ask anyone with information which can help save lives and help local communities to move forward from the bitterness and the division of the past to supply it to the PSNI.”