Home ireland PSNI officer who survived murder bid attends garden party with Britain’s King Charles

PSNI officer who survived murder bid attends garden party with Britain’s King Charles

PSNI officer who survived murder bid attends garden party with Britain’s King Charles

A senior PSNI detective who survived a murder bid has attended a garden party in Co Down with Britain’s King Charles and Queen Camilla.

The event was the first time Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell has appeared in public since the attack attributed to dissident republicans earlier this year.

It is understood that he had a private audience with the king ahead of the event.

Mr Caldwell was seriously injured after he was shot several times at a sports centre in Omagh, Co Tyrone in February after coaching a youth sports team.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson is also among the guests at the garden party at Hillsborough Castle in Co Down.

It came on the first day of a visit by the king and queen to Northern Ireland.It is their first visit outside England since the coronation earlier this month.

Charles and Camilla met with pupils from a local primary school who have taken part in a competition to design coronation benches.

Britain’s Northern Ireland secretary Chris Heaton-Harris hosted a brief private audience with Charles and Camilla before they attended a garden party and planted a tree within the grounds of the castle to mark the coronation.

Sinn Féin vice-president Michelle O’Neill did not attend the event. However, she said representatives from the party will be present at events during the two-day visit.

“Yes, I think there’s a whole raft of engagements and some of our MPs will be at local events in their constituencies,” she told reporters after a meeting with the secretary of state at Hillsborough castle on Wednesday.

Earlier, Charles and Camilla officially opened a Coronation Garden at Hazelbank Park in Newtownabbey,

The couple were welcomed by the Lord-Lieutenant of Co Antrim David McCorkell, mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Stephen Ross and North Belfast MP John Finucane (Sinn Féin).

They were serenaded by school children and took some time to chat with the youngsters before officially opening the gates to the Coronation Garden.

Garden designer Diarmuid Gavin accompanied Charles and Camilla, introducing them to those who have spent recent months working to realise his “whimsical” design, which includes music, moving plants and bubbles.

He said his team had been working around the clock in recent months to prepare the garden, and described his inspiration as “whimsy” to mark the coronation as well as engaging with people of all ages.

“They were wonderful – I got to spend a little bit of time with them, we went into the quiet garden with the water dancing and they were asking me where the plants came from, the idea behind the design, and they couldn’t have been nicer,” he said.

Charles and Camilla were told the special garden in honour of their coronation marks the beginning of a new green initiative for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.

The king smiled as Bring Me Sunshine played, while Camilla described the garden as not what she had expected, but complimented it as “absolutely lovely”.