OUR thoughts are with the grieving family of Detective Constable Stephen Oake, killed in Manchester while doing his job.

Theirs is a terrible, tragic loss.

Whether that loss could, in any way, have been prevented is a question the police have to address.

We accept what Assistant Chief Constable Alan Green was saying about hindsight being a wonderful thing. He said: ''Policing is a damn difficult job and it is all very well for people to make judgements afterwards."

On this occasion, the police had to make a judgement on the spot but, nevertheless, it is worth asking whether that judgement was the right one so that, in the future, the police can be safer when going about their vital jobs of protecting us all.

The other issue that immediately comes out of Manchester's tragic events concerns asylum seekers. All asylum seekers should not be tarred with the same brush. Many - most - are genuine, and deserve our protection.

But this is now the third Algerian asylum seeker to be arrested in connection with the most heinous of terrorist offences. The man wanted in Manchester had been in Britain "on and off for about four years", according to the Home Secretary David Blunkett, despite having his application refused.

We understand that Mr Blunkett does not want to stir up suspicion of innocent people - but that suspicion wouldn't exist in the first place if Mr Blunkett's system was failsafe in the first place. The Home Secretary must address these concerns.

Finally, we are struck most of all by the words of DC Oake's father Robin, who said: "I am praying hard for his wife Lesley and the children as well as my wife and the wider family but, even more than that, I am praying for the perpetrator of this killing and seeking God's forgiveness for him; praying also that he may now seek God himself and find peace and forgiveness with Him.''

This, surely, is the basis of all religions. It may sound wishy-washy to some, but if all religions were to truly preach such sentiments - and this is not an anti-Muslim statement because it applies just as much in Christian Ireland - the world would indeed be a better place.

However, it is often easier to hate than it is to be as brave as Mr Oake.