Page last updated at 14:44 GMT, Friday, 2 April 2010 15:44 UK

I pray for dissidents - Baggott

Matt Baggott
Matt Baggott became PSNI chief constable in September 2009

The chief constable of the PSNI has revealed that he has prayed for dissident republicans who are engaged in violent actions against his officers.

Matt Baggott, who is a president of the Christian Police Association, said he asked God to "take the scales from the eyes" of those who were engaged in a "cycle of violence and anger".

The chief constable took on the role in September 2009 in the midst of a renewed outbreak of dissident republican violence.

In March last year, the Real IRA killed two soldiers outside Massereene army barracks in Antrim.


Within 48 hours, another dissident group, the Continuity IRA, murdered PSNI constable Stephen Carroll in Craigavon.

Since Mr Baggott took over, dissidents have continued to try to attack his officers.

In January, PSNI officer Peadar Heffron was seriously injured by a booby-trap bomb just a couple of miles from where the two soldiers were killed.

In an appearance on BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan Show, Mr Baggott, a 51-year-old father-of-three, spoke to a dissident republican supporter who called in to the programme.

We've got to stop this nonsense about the war machine
Matt Baggott

Mr Baggott said: "You are obviously a very angry man and I'm sure there are things that have happened in the past that have made you angry and I respect that.

"But when I go to the graduation ceremonies of new recruits, many of whom are Catholic young people doing a fantastic job, they are not joining the PSNI to be part of a British war machine, they are joining to be the impartial guardians of your family and your young people's future.

"The PSNI does not swear allegiance to the Queen, it swears allegiance to the people of Northern Ireland or the North of Ireland, however you want to call it.

"I have absolutely no political bias whatsoever."

Mr Baggott said he could not understand the portrayal of him "as a leader of a war machine".

He dismissed claims he led a political police force, and added: "We've got to stop this nonsense about the war machine."

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