The funeral of the policeman who was murdered by dissident republicans in Co Armagh will take place tomorrow.
Constable Stephen Carroll was gunned down three days ago in Craigavon as he responded to a call for help from a distressed woman who said her house was being attacked.
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The 48-year-old father and grandfather — who is the first PSNI officer to be murdered by terrorists — was shot by the Continuity IRA as he was getting out of the police car shortly before 10pm on Monday.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph just hours after his death, his distraught widow Kate, who would have been celebrating 25 years of marriage next year, said the cold-blooded killers have taken her life away as well.
Requiem Mass will be held for Constable Carroll in St Therese’s Church in his home town of Banbridge.
The service will be led by Canon Liam Stevenson, who was at the family home on Tuesday, offering comfort to Kate, their son Shane and other family members, along with another local priest, Father Tony Carr. Afterwards, Constable Carroll will be laid to rest in St Patrick’s Cemetery.
It is understood that PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde will lead a delegation of mourners from the PSNI at tomorrow’s funeral.
SDLP leader Mark Durkan is also expected to attend, as are members of the other main political parties, including the DUP’s David Simpson, Alex Maskey and John O’Dowd from Sinn Fein, and Ulster Unionist deputy leader Danny Kennedy.
The First and deputy First Ministers Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness, who are now in the US, called at the Carroll family home on Tuesday to offer their condolences.
Constable Carroll had lived for several years in Newbridge, Co Kildare, before moving to England and then settling in Co Down. He was due to retire next year and was looking forward to taking up a new career as a personal trainer.
Father Tony Corr said Mrs Carroll, who works at the Southern Regional College in Banbridge, was still coming to terms with her husband’s murder.
“She can’t believe it has happened,” he said.
“Stephen was so very caring and thoughtful. They had a fantastic relationship and she was just waiting on a phone call for him to say when he was coming home and instead she got a call at the door to say he had been shot.”
Constable Carroll is survived by his wife and “best friend” Kate, stepson Shane and grandchildren Dean, Katelyn, Jordan and Jake.