In the wake of the Ronan Kerr murder, first minister of Stormont, Peter Robinson, said policemen and women serving communities in Northern Ireland in spite of the dissident threat must not be taken for granted.

Robinson urged people to make an extra effort and go out of their way to let PSNI officers know that they support what they do. He said that was more important than ever in the dark times after the murder of police constable Ronan Kerr.

“We have support from right across the community for the new era that we have entered and support for the police, who are carrying out their activities in the most difficult of circumstances,” Robinson said.

“I want to praise all of those men and women who put on the uniform and who serve on our behalf.

“I know that it is always difficult for serving officers in the aftermath of a killing such as this. No doubt their spirits are down, but I am absolutely certain that their determination is as strong as ever it was.

“And I say to the wider community: don’t be slow when you see a police officer on the street in expressing your direct support to that person.

“I think we take the police too much for granted: they are there, we see them walking down the street, but at times such as this they need to know that the community supports them.”

He said the car bombing showed that there were “deranged people” in the community who saw the police as targets, regardless of the religion of the officer.

He added: “What mystifies me is that the people who carried out this activity can’t see that what they do does not advance their cause by one millimetre, and I don’t have a message for the dissidents other than to say that the community is going to resist you, we will stand against you, we will be united in that stand against you, you do not act for any section of our community and as far as those of us in Northern Ireland are concerned we intend to defend our institutions.”