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Murdered men's families tell of revulsion over Derry bonfire display

Prison warder's son and PSNI officer's widow appalled by 'sickening' bigotry


Disgust: Kate Carroll

Disgust: Kate Carroll

Stephen Carroll

Stephen Carroll

Ronan Kerr

Ronan Kerr

Adrian Ismay

Adrian Ismay

Prison officer David Black

Prison officer David Black

Kyle Black, son of murdered warder David Black

Kyle Black, son of murdered warder David Black


Disgust: Kate Carroll

The families of two dissident republican murder victims have told of how the placing of their loved ones' names on a bonfire in Londonderry has reopened old wounds.

The widow of murdered police officer Stephen Carroll and son of murdered prison officer David Black both spoke out after the bonfire sparked outrage.

Their names were placed on the pyre in the Bogside on Wednesday night alongside those of PSNI officer Ronan Kerr and prison officer Adrian Ismay. All were killed by dissident republicans.

The fire also featured Union, Israeli and Army flags, poppy wreaths stolen from the city's cenotaph, and a Donald Trump election sign. Hundreds gathered to watch the pyre burn while fire crews had to be dispatched to contain the blaze from spreading to nearby buildings.

Police also came under attack, with three petrol bombs being thrown from the City Walls.

Mr Black's son Kyle said last night: "It's hard to put our feelings into words. We're sickened by the fact that there is a small minority who see these actions as being justified.

"My dad, like Adrian Ismay, Ronan Kerr and Stephen Carroll served the community with dignity. All these people are doing is reopening our wounds.

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"They don't represent anyone in our society, and have nothing to offer anyone.

"I'm grateful for the support I and my family have received from all sections of the community. Everyone who has contacted us has been totally ashamed of what was done at the bonfire. Their support is very much appreciated."

Kate Carroll said the sectarian act spoke volumes about "the bigotry and the hatred" still present in the minds of some in Northern Ireland.

Mr Carroll (48), from Banbridge, was shot dead after police were lured to a callout in Craigavon in March 2009.

Ms Carroll said the "mindless" incident had caused the families concerned undue distress. She said she had been away in Killarney, Co Kerry, for a few days and only learned of the bonfire yesterday morning.

"I'm absolutely shocked and disappointed that Derry-Londonderry is in the news for all the wrong reasons, particularly since it previously hosted the City of Culture so eloquently," she said.

"I couldn't believe that people could take such a backward stance when we had shown the world that we could get on with life and live in harmony or if not at least co-exist together.

"That has all been stamped on and the goodness taken away.

"Steve never did any harm to anyone in his life. He was a very impartial guy. When it came to politics, he was very rational and saw everyone's point of view.


The bonfire, containing placards carrying the names of dissident victims and poppy wreaths, is lit in Londonderry.

The bonfire, containing placards carrying the names of dissident victims and poppy wreaths, is lit in Londonderry.

The bonfire, containing placards carrying the names of dissident victims and poppy wreaths, is lit in Londonderry.

"Even if he didn't always agree, he would agree to differ.

"He worked with young children in a sporting capacity, steered them in the right direction and gave them advice.

"This brings his death all back, which was just a mindless act anyway. Those behind it have done the ultimate to Steve and they can't hurt him anymore. It also speaks volumes about the bigotry and the hatred that is still harboured in the minds of the people of our country."

Sinn Fein condemned the "display of hate", saying it had "absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with republicanism".

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson slammed the "inhumane and pure evil" of placing the men's names on the bonfire.

Mrs Carroll said she welcomed the cross community condemnation of the bonfire, particularly by Sinn Fein.

"It was nice to see that maybe there is a chance for us all to move forward. I have learned the hard way that life is too short to be stuck in a futile past," she added.

"Most people I know would prefer to live and let live and be left alone to get on with their lives."

Kyle Black also criticised those involved, saying he was "absolutely sickened" by their actions.

Kenny Donaldson, from the South East Fermanagh Foundation victims group, which supports some of the families affected, added: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the good men dishonoured by these sub-humans.

"In life they served others, were family men and men of honour, who represented all that is good within humanity."

The head of the Prison Service here also condemned the "disgraceful" decision to light a bonfire emblazoned with the names of murdered officers.

Prison Service director-general Ronnie Armour, in a message to staff, said: "Using the names of our murdered friends and colleagues, and those of PSNI colleagues, in this way has caused great hurt and distress to their families, to the Prison Service and the wider community."

Chairman of the Police Federation Mark Lindsay (left) said it was "a sick and disgusting display of hatred and bigotry".

"All right-thinking people from all sections of society will be totally appalled at this," he said.

An Israeli flag was also burned on the bonfire. Last night Steven Jaffe, co-chair of Northern Ireland Friends of Israel, said: "In Nazi Germany they notoriously burned 'Jewish books' before they burned millions of Jewish people.

"The burning of flags and now the burning of the names of murder victims arises from dehumanising those who you've been taught to despise, whether that's Israeli Jews, Palestinian Arabs, unionists or nationalists.

"Political leaders need to be very careful to ensure the words they use on local tensions, or for that matter the Arab-Israeli conflict, don't stoke up this kind of extremism and hatred."

Secretary of State Karen Bradley said: "This type of offensive and sickening behaviour is utterly reprehensible and I condemn these actions, which are unrepresentative of the community."

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said he was "appalled and saddened".

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