Belfast Telegraph

End the violence, communities urged

The head of the Catholic church in Ireland called for an end to the futility and evil of violence in a powerful statement at Pc Ronan Kerr's funeral.

Cardinal Sean Brady said the people rejected those blamed for killing the new recruit, 25. He pleaded with parents not to allow their young people to become involved in violence. Police believe dissident republicans are responsible.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers and senior Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) members stood side by side and helped carry the coffin into the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Beragh, Co Tyrone, in an unprecedented sign of unity.

Pc Kerr was killed when a booby trap device exploded under his Ford Mondeo at his Omagh home, near Beragh, as he got in to go to work.

Cardinal Brady told mourners: "The people have said no, never again, to the evil and futility of violence. They have said an emphatic no to the murder and mayhem of the past. Let there be no doubt that the killing of Ronan Kerr was totally unjustified.

"It was an evil deed, an offence against God and a complete rejection of the belief that human life is sacred."

His killing, blamed on dissident republicans opposed to the peace process, has sparked unanimous cross-community condemnation. The funeral procession was accompanied by unifying images that would have been unimaginable during the Troubles.

First Minister Peter Robinson is the first Democratic Unionist Party leader to attend a Catholic Mass, while the presence of Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at the funeral of a police officer also represents a striking break with the past.

The small Tyrone village ground to a halt as local schoolchildren and members of the officer's boyhood Gaelic football club flanked the cortege led by his mother Nuala, who days ago appealed that his loss not be in vain. A police hat and gloves were carried on top of the coffin.

The Cardinal added: "Parents and grandparents, I beg you, plead with your children and with your grandchildren not to get involved with violence. Never let them be deceived by those who say that Ireland will be united or the union made more secure by war. They are wrong. It is an illusion. Violence has nothing, absolutely nothing, to offer except misery and destruction."

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