Belfast Telegraph

Belfast bomb: Community is united in outrage at murder bid

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

Community and church leaders from across Northern Ireland's sectarian divide have united in condemnation of the bomb attack on a prison guard.

Secretary of State Theresa Villiers said: "Like all his colleagues in the prison service, this officer serves the whole of the community, in stark contrast to the people who carried out this appalling and violent crime."

Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness, the region's First and Deputy First Ministers, issued a joint statement in which they described the attack as "despicable and shocking".

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has also expressed concern at what he called a callous and cowardly incident.

Northern Ireland's Justice Minister David Ford said the people who planted the bomb had shown no regard for life.

Meanwhile, Prison Service director general Sue McAllister said her thoughts were with the victim and his family, adding that his colleagues would not be deterred.

"This was a despicable act and an attack on us all," she said.

The DUP's Emma Pengelly, whose constituency office is close to the blast scene, said: "We are trying to build a peaceful Northern Ireland. This is not the type of thing that we want to see here."

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly said there can be no place in society for such attacks, while SDLP leader Colum Eastwood described the perpetrators as thugs.

East Belfast MLA Chris Lyttle also expressed his outrage at the "sickening echo of the past".

Church leaders have also spoken of their horror and revulsion, including Presbyterian Moderator Dr Ian McNie who said: "This attack is a throwback to a past that should never be repeated, as violence, then as now, has no place in our society."

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