Sunday, April 3, 2011

Don't go back to the dark days, begs mother of PC killed by car bomb in Omagh

The grieving mother of a young Catholic constable murdered in Northern Ireland urged her country not to ‘go back to the dark days of fear and terror’ last night.
The grim shadow of the Troubles returned when newly recruited PC Ronan Kerr, 25, was killed by a car bomb outside his home in Omagh on Saturday.
The killing provoked condemnation from David Cameron, Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Sources said it could be the first in a new campaign of murderous attacks on policemen by extremist republican group Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH) and claimed the terrorists were plotting a ‘spectacular’ during the Queen’s visit to the Irish Republic next month.
The group is targeting fellow Catholic members of their community who sign up to the increasingly diverse Police Service of Northern Ireland.
But PC Kerr’s mother Nuala last night bravely spoke of her son’s love of the police – and urged other Catholics to defy the terrorists by joining the force.
Flanked by her surviving sons Cathair and Aaron and daughter Dairine, 17, nurse Mrs Kerr: ‘This is a time when we are striving for a neutral police force for the good of our country – and I urge all Catholic members not to be deterred by this. We all need to stand up and be counted and to strive for equality.
‘We don’t want to go back into the dark days again of fear and terror. We were so proud of Ronan and all that he stood for. Don’t let his death be in vain.
‘He had all the attributes of a great police officer – fair, empathetic, intelligent, humorous, a great communicator and loyal to all who knew him. And he just loved his work.
‘I would appeal to the public for any information, no matter how small, about this callous crime. Please come forward so that justice can be done.’

Widow Mrs Kerr had been planning to celebrate Mother’s Day yesterday with PC Kerr and his siblings. Cathair was flying from his home in Australia to be with the family and learned of his brother’s death during a stopover on Saturday.
The car bomb that killed PC Kerr, who completed his training course in December, went off on Saturday afternoon as he left his shared house on the edge of Omagh to drive to work.
It exploded minutes after 2,000 people participating in a fun run and half marathon had jogged by on the main road a few yards away.
The blast – the first killing of a member of the security forces by dissident republicans for two years – was yet another shock for Omagh, where in August 1998 29 civilians and two unborn children were murdered by a massive bomb planted by the Real IRA.
Grieving: Mother Nuala Kerr, centre left, has called on anyone who has any information to come forward after her son was murdered
Grieving: Mother Nuala Kerr, centre left, has called on anyone who has any information to come forward after her son was murdered
After that failed attempt to halt the peace process caused widespread revulsion, some extremists declared a ceasefire, but more militant terrorists, disgusted by the IRA and Sinn Fein’s acceptance of peace, vowed to fight on.
One faction became ONH, which last year blew up Catholic police officer Peadar Heffron, 33, a Gaelic footballer, with a car bomb similar to that used on Saturday. He lost a leg.
Last night a source close to the dissidents said further attacks on Catholic policemen and during the Queen’s visit would not need massive numbers.
He pointed to the 1979 IRA murder of Lord Mountbatten in his boat in Mullaghmore harbour, County Sligo, as proof of the kind of result a small, tightly knit team could ‘achieve’.
Storm brewing: Shocking graffiti referring to the murder of Ronan Kerr - and it seems tensions are set to rise
Storm brewing: Shocking graffiti referring to the murder of Ronan Kerr - and it seems tensions are set to rise
Speaking in Belfast, the source said: ‘The spate of attacks on cops will go on and on. And Catholic cops in particular will be specifically targeted.
‘It’s easy to target Catholic officers, as they come from our community and it’s relatively easy to find out which local young people have joined up.
‘They got lucky with Kerr. He was close by them, living amongst Catholics, and it’s a nationalist town and people talk. He was pointed out.’
Matt Bagott, Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland – which has seen Catholic membership triple to 30 per cent in recent years – said ‘a potent and dangerous minority’ had ‘killed a peacemaker, a modern-day hero’. ‘A mother has lost her brave son, made all the more horrific that it is Mothers’ Day today,’ he added.
Mr Cameron said: ‘Those who carried out this wicked and cowardly crime will never succeed in dragging Northern Ireland back to a dark and bloody past.’
Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, once an IRA leader but now Deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland, said PC Kerr’s killers had ‘betrayed the community’ and had ‘no role to play in our future’, while Mrs Clinton called for the terrorists to be brought to justice.


By Ruth Dudley Edwards
Poor Omagh. With the cold-blooded murder of Constable Ronan Kerr, tragedy has made it famous again. This little town achieved a notoriety it never wanted in August 1998 when a car bomb killed 29 people, including one woman pregnant with twins.
What shocked the world was not just the horror of the carnage wreaked on shoppers on that sunny Saturday afternoon, but that this had happened at a time when Northern Ireland was thought to be at peace, following the Good Friday Agreement.
Supposedly signalling an end to paramilitary brutality, the accord meant that unionists (who wanted to keep the province part of the United Kingdom) would share power with nationalists (who wanted a united Ireland). There would be no constitutional change without majority agreement. Democracy had triumphed over terror.
Destruction: The scene in the Highfield Close area of Omagh after Kerr was murdered in an under-car bomb attack
Destruction: The scene in the Highfield Close area of Omagh after Kerr was murdered in an under-car bomb attack
But as republicans Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness made peace, some of their old colleagues were busy planning a continuation of their war. The people who made the bomb that brought death, mutilation and bereavement to Omagh were furious that the IRA had ‘sold out’.
One of them was Michael McKevitt, the head of what became known as the Real IRA, who had once been an IRA quartermaster but had resigned in protest when the leadership renounced violence. He was married to Bernadette Sands, whose brother Bobby was the first hunger striker to die in the Maze prison during the bitter propaganda struggle with the British government.
McKevitt and the other die-hards claimed they were the guardians of the sacred flame of Irish republicanism, who would settle for nothing short of outright victory. To them, the Omagh outrage was business as usual.
When terrible things happen, it is human nature to want to believe that the suffering has not been in vain. And so it was in 1998. The Pope, monarchs, presidents and prime ministers all declared that the Omagh atrocity would draw a permanent line under political violence in Ireland.
The Irish people, we were assured, would no longer stand for such evil being perpetrated in their name. The authorities said they were determined to bring the murderers to justice and guaranteed the Real IRA and their associates, the Continuity IRA, would be hunted down. These were empty words, however.
Both the British and Irish governments were so afraid of alienating mainstream republicans that they refused to contemplate imprisonment for terror suspects – the only thing that would have taken the men of violence off the streets.
Far from over: Young PC Kerr is the latest victim of Irish nationalism - and sadly he won't be the last
Far from over: Young PC Kerr is the latest victim of Irish nationalism - and sadly he won't be the last
So, hardline republicans continued their campaign of violence, trying to kill and maim in the name of Irish unity. Although heavily penetrated by informers, the Real and Continuity IRAs still pose a threat, as does a newer splinter group, Oglaigh na hEireann (often translated as ‘Soldiers of Ireland’).
MI5 deserves great credit for having foiled dozens of murderous plots and saved many, many lives.

Yet no one is able to cut off all the heads of this vicious hydra.
In March 2009, two soldiers and a policeman were shot dead; and in the last three years, two policemen have lost legs to bombs. 

Catholic police officers have been the favourite target, for they are seen by these warped minds as traitors colluding with the enemy. Constable Kerr fitted their foul bill perfectly. His killers hope his murder will deter Catholics from joining the Northern Ireland force.
There is nothing new about any of this. Whereas today, Martin McGuinness is Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland and condemns the murderers of policemen, when he and Gerry Adams ran the Provisional IRA, police were at the top of their target list.
In the Troubles, from 1963 to 1998, more than 300 officers were murdered by paramilitaries, most of them by the Provisional IRA.
Politicians and the media call the present group of republican murderers ‘dissidents’, but these murderers consider themselves mainstream. They won’t end the violence until Ireland is united – as they carry on the war that the Provisional IRA abandoned.
Although they constitute only a few hundred and don’t command widespread support, there is a worrying ambivalence at the heart of the Irish government’s attitude to political violence.
For the truth is that today’s republican assassins – the killers of Constable Kerr – see themselves as proud heirs of the Irish heroes of 1916 who declared war on the British Empire on the road to independence.
When Bertie Ahern (the Irish leader who secured the Good Friday Agreement with Tony Blair) denounced the Real IRA, he did so with a photograph of his hero Patrick Pearse, leader of the 1916 Easter Rising against the British, on his office wall.
In 2016, Ireland will celebrate the centenary of the Easter Rising. Until the Irish people come to accept that the men they call their founding fathers used illegitimate means in fighting their British rulers, the so-called ‘dissident’ killers of Constable Ronan Kerr will claim they have history on their side.

The young, novice police officer is but the latest victim of perverted Irish nationalism. Sadly, he won’t be the last.

No comments:

Post a Comment