Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: No hiding place for callous killers

The priest who saw the body of the man shot dead on a quiet country road outside Londonderry spoke for the entire community when he described his emotions afterwards.

Fr Stephen McLaughlin said he had a feeling of complete revulsion and felt sick to the pit of his stomach. Even those strong emotive words cannot fully capture the abhorrence that every right thinking person has about the murder, apparently carried out by dissident republican group, the Real IRA.

It is difficult to comprehend the warped minds of those who carried out this foul deed. Not content with taking the life of a man who was due to get married in three months and who had a two year old daughter, the killers then stripped him of his dignity by leaving him bound and naked at the roadside. No doubt, if any explanation is forthcoming from the killers, they will also try to destroy his reputation.

This is not the first such killing in recent years. Andrew Burns was shot dead and left just across the border at Castlefin almost exactly two years ago. Wednesday night's murder is an echo of the worst days of the Troubles and, as such, shows the futility of the campaign of violence in which the dissident groups are currently involved. Have they learned nothing from past experiences? The only change they are capable of forcing is to change irretrievably the lives of their victims' families. What a miserable legacy to leave any society.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has condemned the killing in forcible terms and his words should be heeded by the community at large. It is clear the dissidents are ratcheting up their campaign of violence - witness the recent car bombs and the booby-trap attack which left PSNI officer Peadar Heffron maimed - and there must be a strong response from the community. Any scrap of evidence which could lead to the apprehension of these killers and their incarceration must be given to the PSNI at once.

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