Belfast Telegraph

Elliott: No Kerr funeral regrets

The leader of the Ulster Unionist Party has insisted he has no regrets about attending the funeral of a Catholic police officer despite facing disciplinary action by the Orange Order.

Tom Elliott said he and fellow Orangeman Danny Kennedy, who is UUP Stormont minister, had not committed a sin or crime by paying their respects at the Requiem Mass of dissident republican murder victim Constable Ronan Kerr earlier this year.

The pair face potential censure from the Grand Lodge of Ireland after a lodge in Belfast made an official complaint that the pair had broken rules by attending a church service not of the reformed faith.

Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA Mr Elliott said he and Mr Kennedy had done the right thing, adding: "It was the honourable thing and certainly I and I know Danny have no regrets over that."

Constable Kerr, 25, died in April after a dissident republican booby-trapped bomb exploded under his car in Omagh, Co Tyrone.

Mr Elliott and Mr Kennedy attended his Catholic funeral in his home village of Beragh. Hundreds of police officers and members of the Gaelic Athletic Association attended the former player's Mass.

A formal complaint was subsequently made about both politicians by a lodge in Sandy Row, south Belfast.

The Orange Order has refused to comment on the disciplinary process, insisting it is a private matter.

Mr Elliott told the BBC: "I do not believe it was any sin or crime to go to the funeral of a murdered police officer, someone who was serving this community, someone who actually served in my constituency.

"And I believe by doing that that was showing leadership from the Ulster Unionist Party and indeed from our entire community towards the services that Ronan Kerr and others were providing to this society."

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