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MLAs present a united front over killings

By Noel McAdam

Published 11/03/2009

Assembly members literally stood together yesterday — and again told terrorist groups “you will never win”.

After another litany of words, MLAs took poignant action by standing for a minute's silence after normal business was suspended for the second time in two days.

A visible police presence encircled Stormont, with police officers stationed at several points including Carson's statue and outside the main entrance to Parliament Buildings.

Opening the half-hour emergency debate DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said: “Now is the time for the entire community to speak as one to defeat those who would drag this province back to the past.

Lambasting the “heinous and evil” killing in Craigavon, he said that words would not be enough and those who had any information must provide it. “In this battle there is no room on the sidelines,” the Finance Minister said.

Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey, sharing condolences expressed by Mr Dodds, said it was very important that the Assembly maintain its unity of purpose.

Revealing he had spoken personally to express sympathy to Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde, the former chief whip said he wanted to show solidarity with the families of the bereaved and who have had loved ones injured.

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said politicians 10 years ago had opened the door to a new future and what the dissidents failed to appreciate was that circumstances had changed for the better.

“These criminal elements had thrown down the gauntlet,” he said.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said ruthless subversives were trying to undermine the stability and accommodation which had been reached but they would not succeed.

Progressive Unionist leader Dawn Purvis said there was a real fear and anger which was palpable and which must be channelled in a positive direction.

The minute's silence was requested by Speaker William Hay, who said members did not expect to be back on a second day reflecting on another terrible tragedy.

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