Wednesday 16 August 2017

Community stands united in condemnation of 'misguided' act

PSNI forensic experts at the scene
PSNI forensic experts at the scene
Ronan Kerr's mum Nuala makes an appeal last night with her sons and daughter Cathair, Dairine and Aaron
Constable Ronan Kerr who was killed in a car bomb attack in Omagh, Co Tyrone, on Saturday
Tyrone footballers stand for a minute's silence before their National League game against Kildare at Dungannon yesterday
The scene of the car bomb

Michael McHugh

The purple drapes in the Omagh church symbolised the mourning of a community plunged into grief.

Weeks before Easter, the Co Tyrone market town made infamous by the 1998 dissident republican bomb has been devastated again by a terror attack.

Christ the King Church is just yards from the scene of the blast, which took the life of new policeman, Ronan Kerr, as he headed to work in Enniskillen. Mass-goers heard words of condemnation from parish priest Fr Kevin McElhennon.

"We, as a community, stand united with one another in our absolute and clear condemnation of yesterday's murder.

"We stand, too, in our opposition to the misguided, blind, morally wrong and sinful ideology of those who planned, executed and supported the brutal murder of young Ronan."

Fr McElhennon added: "Many words come to my mind this morning. But no litany of words will ever come close to expressing how those closest to Ronan must feel at this time."

Worshippers who stopped afterwards were unanimous. Leo Crossey (67), a retired education board worker, expressed disgust: "It is not something anyone wants. What have they achieved by killing a policeman?"

He added: "They are going to destroy what has been built."

Barry McCann (34), a farmer from near Omagh, said: "I was very angry yesterday. It just gives you a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach.

"They are just taking us back to the bad old days that we thought we were getting out of."

Flowers were placed close to the scene where forensics experts in white boiler suits searched for clues in the residential street on the outskirts of the town.

A white and blue tent was placed at the scene of the blast.

Just minutes away is a garden of remembrance for the 29 bomb victims in 1998.

American tourist Phil Lennox (46) paused as he walked past the memorial.

"It is just so sad that this is happening again. Our thoughts go out to the victim," he said.

In nearby Drumduff, a few miles down the road, family and friends of Mr Kerr gathered. The country road was barred by a police cordon and nobody was allowed past, at the request of the family.

Tyrone's National League game against Kildare was switched from Healy Park in Omagh to Dungannon yesterday due to the killing of Constable Kerr, a former player with local team Beragh Red Knights GFC.

A minute's silence was observed in his memory prior to the start of the game.

Irish Independent

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