A lasting tribute to brave Bertie
The weekend funeral of Bertie Acheson, the Coleraine pensioner who died after confronting an intruder in his house, has brought home to everyone the brutal reality of such an encounter, as well as the continuing heartache of his family and friends.
Mr Acheson died from a heart attack following a struggle in his home last week, and mourners at his funeral on Saturday were reminded of his devotion to his wife and family, and also of the widespread respect in which he was held by the wider community.
Bertie Acheson was a good citizen and family man, like many thousands of others in Northern Ireland. He was also exemplary because of the selfless way in which he looked after the wellbeing of those closest to him.
He was an older man who had the courage to take on an intruder in the defence of his wife and his home, and he paid the ultimate price for doing so. His untimely death strikes a chord of deep sympathy among all of us for his widow, family and friends in their sad loss.
However, Mr Acheson's death was not an isolated incident, and only this weekend there were reports of further attacks on innocent people in Newtownabbey and west Belfast.
Almost every week there are reports of attacks, often on those who are the most vulnerable. Many of the cowardly encounters are given widespread publicity, but after the initial expressions of shock and sympathy, the victims are too often left to suffer in silence.
The members of the PSNI routinely underline their determination to try to apprehend the perpetrators, but the statistics of success are less than inspiring.
However this is not a matter for the police alone. It is the duty of all of us to report anything we regard as suspicious to the police, and to keep a neighbourly eye on others, particularly older folk.
The best tribute to Bertie Acheson would be for everyone to do their utmost to help the authorities to tackle these vicious crimes within our community and to help bring those responsible to justice.