Creggan bomb attack police officer speaks for first time

The front of the police vehicle was badly damaged in the incident Image copyright OTHER
Image caption The front of the police vehicle was badly damaged in the incident

A police officer who survived a dissident republican murder bid in Londonderry six years ago has spoken publicly for the first time.

The PSNI officer was on duty in the Creggan area of the city in 2012 when an explosive device was thrown at the car he was driving.

He was badly shaken but escaped injury.

"All we heard was the bang on the roof of the vehicle and something dark disappearing over the roof of the bonnet," he said.

The officer, who has remained anonymous for security reasons, and a colleague were in the area supporting officers carrying out a search operation when the device was thrown.

Jeering

The police presence drew a crowd.

The officer told BBC Radio Foyle he went into "automatic mode" as the device hit the car.

"Your brain is working that quickly, everything tends to slow up, every question tends to go through your head.

"Is it a stone, is it fireworks? Is it a rock? Then the realisation that it wasn't fireworks, that it was an explosive device thrown at police."

In the immediate aftermath he radioed colleagues alerting them to what happened.

Luckily, he said, the badly damaged vehicle "was still running and we managed to get ourselves out and the vehicle out."

The PSNI officer said what was most shocking was "the young ones running towards us, jeering in a joyous way.

"That probably shocked me more, the fact that young ones were hoping to see someone seriously injured or worse."

After the attack, he said he questioned whether he should continue his career in policing.

"You assess yourself, your commitment to the job, your commitment to your family, to your community. I think that's a natural process anybody goes through, " he said.

"At the time my family were very supportive and would have supported any decision I made."

He said his family's input was paramount "because if something did happen where would they be, kids without a father, a wife without a husband?"

"My job at the time was a neighbourhood officer. To not go back would have been a disappointment to myself," he added.

Now, he said, he tends to think about the attack only "from time to time" when a "smell or location" triggers a memory.

"It could be anything, something burnt, a loud bang, a balloon popping, but your brain processes things in different ways. You just move on and you deal with everything as it comes," he said.

He continues to serve as a police officer.

Added security measures, he said, like checking his car and around his home, are an "unnatural" part of his daily routine.

"You should not have to do it, you should be able to go out and do a day's work and come back to your family without thinking a tragedy could happen," he said .

The PSNI officer was speaking to BBC Radio Foyle as part of a series looking at the challenges facing the police in Northern Ireland's north west.

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