Politicians condemn fatal bomb attack on policeman
DAN KEENAN Northern News Editor in Omagh - Sun, Apr 03, 2011
PSNI chief constable Matt Baggott has held crisis talks with British prime minister David Cameron, Northern Secretary Owen Paterson and Stormont justice minister David Ford after dissident republicans murdered a newly-graduated PSNI officer outside his home in Omagh, County Tyrone.
The victim has been named locally as Ronan Kerr (25), a Catholic who lived at Highfield Close on the Gortin Road on the outskirts of the town. He died when a device placed under his car exploded shortly before 4pm yesterday. He died shortly afterwards. Mr Kerr had graduated from training college last December and was living in Omagh.
He was a former pupil of the Christian Brothers Grammar School in Omagh and was targeted outside his home as he left to start a shift at Enniskillen Police Station in County Fermanagh, about 30 miles from his home in Tyrone.
Chief constable Matt Baggott paid tribute to his colleague. “We have lost one of our brave and courageous police recruits, some one who joined this fine service simply to do good, joined to serve the community impartially and to be someone I describe as a modern-day hero,” he said.
Supt Pauline Shields said: “He has literally been with us for weeks. “In those few weeks that he has served this community he has made an indelible mark on those colleagues and those members of the public with whom he has come into contact.”
The Omagh fun run, with 2,000 competitors had passed the scene an hour before the device exploded. Neighbours in the small housing development rushed to help the young police officer and some used fire extinguishers in an attempt to save him.
The victim is the second officer to be murdered since the PSNI was established in 2001.
Stephen Carroll was shot dead by a Continuity IRA as he answered a call in Craigavon, Co Armagh in March 2009. He too was a Catholic.
Condemnation of the atrocity from politicians and the four main church leaders was swift and wide-ranging.
Cardinal Sean Brady said: “I implore the perpetrators of this shameful killing to realise the futility of their actions, and to call off this senseless campaign."
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the murder was a “heinous and pointless act of terror”. “Those who carried it out want to drag us back to the misery and pain of the past. They are acting in defiance of the Irish people. They must know that they can never succeed in defeating the democratic will of the people,” he said.
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said: “Those behind such violence have no mandate and are acting contrary to the democratic will of the people of Ireland, North and South.
President Mary McAleese said: “This heinous crime will not succeed in its evil intent of destroying the peaceful and democratic future to which the people of Northern Ireland are so clearly committed.”
Northern Ireland First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson said: “It was a young man who was bravely entering the police service, recognising that he was putting his life on the line. “I have absolutely no doubt the overwhelming number of people in NI want to move on. It's only a few Neanderthal who want to go back. They will not drag us back to the past.”
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said: “I want to condemn what happened in Omagh this afternoon. I want to send my condolences to his family at this hugely traumatic time.”
British prime minister David Cameron said: “I utterly condemn the murder of a young police officer today in Omagh, who had dedicated himself to serving the entire community of Northern Ireland. “I know that the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland will not rest until the perpetrators have been brought to justice.
“For our part, the British government stands fully behind the Chief Constable and his officers as they work to protect Northern Ireland from terrorism. And we, with our partners in the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish Government, stand four square behind the people of Northern Ireland who have said time and again they want a peaceful, shared future.”
Ulster Unionist leader Tom Elliott said: “The callous murder of this young officer will come as a great shock to the local community and my thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues at this time.”
Northern Secretary Owen Paterson, said the murder was “an evil act, carried out by enemies of the whole community”. “The people in all parts of Ireland and beyond want peace and those who carried out this atrocity are in the grip of an obscene delusion if they think that by murder they can defy their will,” he said.
SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie said: “This has not only stunned the people of Omagh, it has stunned the entire country. This is not what the people want. They cannot be allowed to continue their campaign.”
It seems that whenever a heinous and cowardly act such as this occurs politicians of every stripe can’t wait to see their statements of “righteous indignation “ printed in the newspapers. In recent times, I can recall the murder of Constable Stephen Carroll in Craigavon and the bombing of Constable Peadar Heffron’s car which, by the grace of God, did not kill him but left him with life altering injuries. I can’t help thinking that as soon as these atrocities are no longer newsworthy, they are filed away as unsolved crimes and the families of the victims are left alone to deal with their loss. Tragically, it appears that the shadow of the gunmen still lurks over the six northern counties of Ireland.
Jack Meehan, Past National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America