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Northern Ireland priest hails ‘quiet dignity’ of Cumbrian people

The “quiet dignity” of a community affected by last week's tragic shootings has been praised by the Northern Ireland-born priest who led a memorial service to remember those killed in Derrick Bird’s murderous rampage.

Father Manny Gribben — who grew up on Belfast’s Falls Road but is now based in Cumbria — said he was proud of how people in west Cumbria had rallied to offer support to those in their hour of need.

“I have been very impressed by the strength and feelings of the community,” he said.

“There is a quiet dignity among people and they have been courageous in very difficult times. We are in this for the long haul and will try to be a reassuring presence for the community. Often it is when all the fuss has died down that people deal with bereavement.”

Father Gribben, priest at St Mary's Catholic Church in Cleator Moor, near Whitehaven, was speaking after a memorial service in the town to remember the 12 who died in Bird's killing spree.

At midday the town fell silent as around 500 people gathered at the war memorial in Market Square to pay their respects.

Other towns and villages shattered by the murders fell silent under grey skies yesterday to remember the gunman's 12 victims.

In Whitehaven taxi drivers sounded their horns for the full 60 seconds to remember colleague and victim Darren Rewcastle.

Some 20 miles away, the Rev Ann Baker led a service in the hamlet of Boot, just a few hundred yards from where the gunman shot himself as police closed in.

She spoke of the “sense of surrealism” as local people tried to come to terms with the horror in their midst last week.

MPs also marked the minute's silence for the victims in the House of Commons ahead of Prime Minister's Questions.

David Cameron confirmed that the Government would look again at Britain's gun laws.

The Association of Chief Police Officers will oversee reviews of why Bird was awarded gun licences, Cumbria Police's armed response to the shootings and police firearms tactics in general.

Father-of-two Bird (52) began his rampage last Wednesday by killing his twin brother David and their family solicitor, Kevin Commons (60), at their homes.

He then drove into Whitehaven and shot several fellow taxi drivers, killing Mr Rewcastle (43), before setting off into the country-|side and blasting passers-by.

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