Let this be an end to our heartache, says Omagh
Thousands of people stood with heads bowed in Omagh yesterday during a minute’s silence in memory of PSNI constable Ronan Kerr, who was murdered in the town eight days before.
Holding posters bearing a picture of Mr Kerr under the words ‘Not In My Name’, the crowd of around 10,000 gathered for a rally in the town centre to represent the demand for peace among the ordinary people of Northern Ireland.
Organisers of the event said it was to be “a speechless rally”, but briefly addressing the crowd, rally organiser Gareth McElduff said: “The numbers who’ve turned out speaks for itself.”
Constable Kerr was killed when a device exploded as he got into his car at his home in Omagh on Saturday, April 2.
Three men have been arrested in connection with the murder, which has been blamed on dissident republicans.
Exactly a week after the tragedy police were dealing with a 500lbs bomb discovered in a vehicle on the main Belfast to Dublin road near Newry, which prompted a major security alert.
As the rally was under way in Omagh, similar vigils took place at Belfast City Hall, at the Diamond in Enniskillen and in London’s Hyde Park Corner.
Crowds from Omagh and further afield converged at the town’s leisure centre before the assembly began its dignified procession through the town centre.
People from all backgrounds and ages, including scores of families with young children, made their way along Market Street, past the scene of the 1998 bomb which killed 29 people and unborn twins, and into High Street before arriving at the bus depot.
There the Omagh Community Youth Choir, formed in response to the Real IRA bomb, treated the crowds to a number of moving ballads, including U2’s Love |Rescue Me. Speaking at the event, Mr McElduff said he had set up a Facebook page for a peace rally on the night 25-year-old Constable Kerr was murdered out of “real anger”.
Thousands registered their support in the intervening days.
Justice Minister David Ford attended the event, though not in an official capacity, and said he hoped those who carried out the murder “listen to the united voice we saw among the political figures north and south of the border at Mr Kerr’s funeral and among the |ordinary people of Omagh today”.
Michael Gallagher, whose son Aiden died in the Omagh bomb, said last week’s murder caused very painful memories for himself and the other bereaved relatives.
He said the killers must be brought to justice, and added: “I have no doubt they are dangerous and we can’t underestimate their ability to maim and murder.”