Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Ronan Kerr murder: We won’t let them turn hope into fear

Today in our land a small collection of people will be congratulating themselves, getting pats on the back, smirking that their demented “cause” is back at the top of news agendas.

Ancient half-truths and myths will be voiced as justification for barbarous actions. They will be happy.

That they live among us will make all right- thinking men and women sick to the pit of their stomachs.

At just 25 Ronan Kerr was the chosen victim of this enemy within. As a Catholic he had committed the “treachery” of serving with an “occupying force”. The truth of course is that Constable Kerr had shown a bravery, selflessness and optimism for the future that the weasel half-wits who took his life will never understand until the end of their twisted days.

Constable Kerr and the vast, vast majority know that Northern Ireland is on a one-way route to peace and democratic debate about the future. There is no going back to nihilist murder and mayhem. He wanted to take part in this new Northern Ireland and for less than a year had been with the PSNI as a community policeman. He was helping to tackle the “normal” crimes that can blight our communities. His presence was a comfort to the old and vulnerable. That could never do for the terrorists.

At 25, Constable Kerr was too young to have experience of the numbing terror of the dark years of the Troubles. It is likely a similar story for his killers. While they hanker for a return to anarchy he, like the rest of us, was moving on.

Yet without a chance of finding support from anyone but the most feeble-minded the dissidents have succeeded in the one way they can. They have brought back fear. Today all policemen and women and their families, particularly Catholics, will be wondering if their sacrifice for this new society is really worth it. No-one could blame them.

Certainly Chief Constable Matt Baggott has his work cut out in the next days and months convincing potential new recruits that Constable Kerr's death is not the start of a sustained campaign against vulnerable individuals in his force. He should shout from the rooftops the many wins the PSNI have had against terrorists. This is not a time for subtlety of message. The chief will ask for and he will get wide cross-community support for his fight.

For despite this tragedy we are not back in the dark old days. What the young policeman's death proved overwhelmingly yesterday was Northern Irish society's revulsion and determination both to stand by those who serve us and to bring those who would harm them to justice. There was no equivocation, no semantics. As one voice yesterday, today and for the future the message was and is clear. Those who seek to bring violence and barbarity back to our streets have no place and no cause here.

A handful of murderers have one goal. To replace hope with fear. In lasting tribute to Ronan Kerr we will not let them.

Belfast Telegraph

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