Murder -- plain and simple
THE news of a young prison officer being killed by dissident republicans as he went to work will have sent out a chilling reminder of how perilous peace can be in the North.
This is bloody, callous, cold-blooded murder by thugs masquerading under the banner of republicanism.
They and so many of their ilk who have paraded their ghastly deeds as 'republicans' all down the years are nothing but murderers.
We can only hope and pray that yesterday's killing will be a once-off, though that is of little use, comfort or benefit to the family of father-of-two David Black , a long-serving member of the North's prison service.
Police say he was hit a number of times after those in a car with Dublin registration plates drove up alongside his vehicle on the M1 motorway and fired a number of shots.
Mr Black was driving to begin duty at the top-security Maghaberry prison near Lisburn, Co Antrim.
There should be no doubting the motives and aims of the murderous bunch who took this man's life.
And there should be no doubting the depths to which they would sink to force their violence on a society that has been unsettled by the huge economic upheavals of recent years.
These killers draw on the frustration of unemployment, fuel anti-social behaviour and love to create an environment of chaos.
All of which makes it imperative that they are stamped out and that the forces of law and order are properly equipped to cope with that task.
Gardai need all the support and backing they can get from politicians and the vast majority of decent people who are sickened by yesterday's atrocity.