Omagh bomb has united Northern Ireland, says Martin McGuinness

Published Monday, 04 April 2011
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Ronan Kerr's murder briefing for first and deputy first minister as Dublin says targeting of Catholic police will fail

Norther Ireland's chief constable is briefing the province's first and deputy first minister over the inquiry into the murder of the Catholic police officer Ronan Kerr.

Matt Bagott will outline the PSNI's progress in its investigation into the bomb attack that killed the 25 year old on Saturday afternoon in County Tyrone.

Kerr is the second police officer to have been murdered since the Royal Ulster Constabulary was reformed and became the PSNI in 2001.

The security forces face a renewed threat from republican dissident organisations whose violence has increased over the last 10 days. The anti-ceasefire republicans have been using new weapons including a more accurate mortar bomb launcher than the ones previously used to attack police stations and other strategic installations in Northern Ireland.

The deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness, stressed today that he and the first minister, Peter Robinson, were standing "rock solid together" in response to Kerr's murder.

"This is a time for all of us to stand up and be counted," the Sinn Féin MP said, adding: "I'm overjoyed at the way in which the community has come together over the course of the weekend to support the Kerr family and to support the changes in policing that have taken place in recent times."

Ireland's justice minister, Alan Shatter, this morning described the killing as a "barbaric atrocity" and vowed that the Garda Síochána, the republic's police force, would be used to track down those responsible.

Shatter said he had been "very conscious of the threat from criminal terrorists" even before the Irish general election campaign.

"These people have murdered an Irish policeman and there can be absolutely no justification for it," he said.

The minister said the minutes silence at a gaelic football match in Tyrone on Sunday demonstrated that the entire community stood against the terror groups. Shatter said they were deliberate targeting Catholic recruits to the PSNI but would fail to "turn the clock back".

He added that he and the head of the Gardaí would be attending Kerr's funeral to "stand shoulder to shoulder" with their colleagues north of the border.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2011
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