Belfast Telegraph

Leave the bigotry out of our politics: Kate Carroll

By Allan Preston

The widow of the first PSNI officer to be killed by terrorists has urged politicians at Stormont to "put bitterness and bigotry out of politics, leave it where it belongs ... in the past".

Writing on the anniversary of Constable Stephen Carroll's death, his widow Kate has penned a open letter to politicians at Stormont, expressing her frustration at their lack of progress.

"Today I will be eight years without my wonderful husband. He loved life but others took that pleasure from him so live and let live, learn to compromise and at least co-exist," she writes.

"Wise up people on the Hill and allow us the respect and life we deserve. Lead by example, not tribalism."

On March 9, 2009, Constable Carroll was ambushed in Lismore Manor, Craigavon by dissidents. He was gunned down leaving his car at around 9.45pm as he responded to a distress call from a woman who said her house was being attacked. Later, the Continuity IRA claimed responsibility for the shooting.

Aged 48, Constable Carroll was only one year away from both retirement and celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary.

Speaking the following day, Mrs Carroll said: "A good husband has been taken away from me, and my life has been destroyed. And what for? A piece of land that my husband is only going to get six feet of. These people have just taken my life as well."

Former deputy First Minister, Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness, later denounced the killers as "traitors to the island of Ireland".

In 2012, Brendan McConville, a former Sinn Fein councillor from Craigavon and John Paul Wooton from Lurgan were convicted for their roles in the murder. They were ordered to serve a minimum of 25 and 14 years in prison respectively.

Just under a week after the Assembly election, politicians at Stormont are in talks to form a new Executive. Doubt remains as to whether agreement can be reached, with Sinn Fein maintaining they will not go into government with the DUP leader Arlene Foster as First Minister.

In her letter, Mrs Carroll told politicians: "No one wants to go back to the violence of the past.

"You have been afforded a second chance to make a real and lasting difference; instead of keeping us in a deep hole of despair, give us something to pull us out so that we can work for the good of the future generations and make our country a happy place again."

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