President condemnsminority of dissident 'wreckers'
POLICE officers in the North remain vulnerable to a "tiny minority of wreckers" who stubbornly work against a peaceful solution to the Troubles, President Mary McAleese warned yesterday.
And she noted that while the "old embedded culture of paramilitarism and the violence which hallmarked it" was fading, it was not yet fully extinguished.
The President was addressing 41 PSNI constables and their families at a graduation ceremony at the Police College in Belfast yesterday.
Mrs McAleese, who was attending such a ceremony for the second time, told the graduates that the force they were joining reflected more than ever before the diversity of the community they would serve and that they could hope to enjoy overwhelming community support.
But she continued with a rebuke to dissident groups who persist in seeking to obstruct the peace process. "We think of you, today's graduates, holders of that trust, commencing your careers, welcomed enthusiastically by the vast majority of citizens, yet still vulnerable to the tiny minority of wreckers who have set their faces like flint against the humanly decent dynamic of this peace." The President said the peace endorsed by the Good Friday Agreement 12 years ago was "growing and consolidating by steady and remarkable increments".
Mrs McAleese continued: "A new culture is emerging of peaceful good neighbourliness, partnership, mutual respect and tolerance, underpinned by laws and principles which conduce to the dignity of every individual in this jurisdiction and equality of citizenship."
Mrs McAleese added: "On this day, we think with respect of all those who have honoured that trust, those who have paid with their lives and their health and the families that live today with loss and heartache."
The President first attended a PSNI graduation ceremony in January.
Yesterday's graduates were also congratulated by PSNI chief constable Matt Baggott and members of the Northern Ireland Policing Board.