Northern Ireland

Chief Constable Matt Baggott addresses PUP conference

matt baggott address pup conference
Image caption Mr Baggott said the PSNI is working hard to tackle drug-dealers and crime in communities

The chief constable has addressed the Progressive Unionist Party's annual conference in Belfast on Saturday.

Matt Baggott said he attended the conference in the "spirit of friendship" and because he was invited.

He told those present that suicide rates in deprived communities concerned him and said it was "time to get our acts together'' on the issue.

He also said the PSNI was working hard to tackle drug-dealers and crime in the community.

Mr Baggott told the conference: "I want your communities to trust us, because if you don't, it gives others the legitimacy to step into that gap.

"We need to be the only legitimate authority."

Talking about violence surrounding controversial parades, the chief constable said: "I think we've shown remarkable restraint.

"I don't know anywhere else in the world where we'd have taken 62 injures over three nights for the greater good standing between people.

"But please don't take it for granted."

In his speech to the conference, PUP leader Billy Hutchinson said he was "no less of a loyalist or British citizen because I talk to republicans".

Talking about criminality, he added: "People in this room need to work with the police to ensure international crime doesn't take a grip, because if it does come, it will come to working class communities.

"We need to ensure organised crime doesn't take over our communities.

"You cannot be a loyalist and a criminal."

Mr Hutchinson said dissident republican violence should be left to be dealt with by the PSNI.

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