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Chief Constable defends Christmas Day tweet and says it is ‘stark reality of policing environment’

But he said: 'This is no reflection on the local community who work daily with their local police officers to create a safe community'

PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne has responded to criticism levelled after he shared a picture with “heavily armed” officers outside Crossmaglen police station.

The Christmas Day post led to political representatives – including Sinn Fein’s Conor Murphy and the SDLP’s Pete Byrne – accusing him of being “offensive” to the local community.

But the Chief Constable – who accepted the tweet had caused “some emotion” – defended the tweet and said this was the nature of policing.

In a statement, Chief Constable Byrne said: “This was a visit by me on Christmas Day to support local officers who do work in unique and often difficult circumstances.

“The officers are carrying weapons and, sadly, this is the stark reality of the policing environment they work in, tackling the severe terrorist threat.

“This is no reflection on the local community who work daily with their local police officers to create a safe community.

“There is no doubt much progress has been made in the towns and villages of South Armagh and my Christmas Day visit to officers who are working really hard to contribute to this progress is an indication of my commitment to build safer communities and tackle the terrorist threat.

“I look forward to meeting with community and political representatives to discuss how we can move forward together and I look forward to a time when we no longer have to police in such a high security environment.”

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