Belfast Telegraph

Pressure mounts on ‘eejit’ uncle to condemn attack

The family of a Catholic policewoman who was targeted by dissident republican bombers are “angry” that her former Sinn Fein councillor uncle has refused to condemn the attack.

The female officer has been forced to flee from her Co Down home with her young child — who was in the car when an under car bomb was discovered beside the vehicle.

It is understood she will be unable to return to the Kilkeel area, where her family also lives after she was rushed to a secure location by the security forces following the murder bid.

The officer’s uncle, independent Newry and Mourne councillor Martin Connelly, had last night still failed to condemn the attack on his niece, despite coming under criticism for refusing to voice any condemnation over the weekend.

A friend of the officer’s family last night told the Belfast Telegraph that other family members are upset by his silence.

“His niece and her young child could have been killed but he has opted for silence,” the friend said.

“The family are very hurt, upset and angry. It has really added to their upset.”

Mr Connolly — who was yesterday branded an “eejit” by Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams for his refusal to speak out against the |violence — has been uncontactable since stating that he “did not want to get into the politics of condemnation” after the attack and that “while there’s British |occupation in Ireland there will |always be opposition to that, whether you agree with it or not”.

A member of his family said Mr Connolly was busy with constituency work, but may make a statement “later in the week”.

SDLP councillor Sean Rogers, who knows the officer’s family, said her parents just want to concentrate on making sure their daughter is safe and trying to get their lives back together.

“Like any parents they are proud of their daughter,” he said.

“There is so much relief that nobody has been injured. Their priority at the minute is to get over what happened and get on with their lives.”

Mayor of Newry and Mourne, Sinn Fein councillor Mick Murphy, said the local community is unhappy at councillor Connelly’s failure to condemn the attack.

“The officer and her family have a lot of support in the area,” he said. “The residents are not too happy about it.

“They are also very disappointed that the officer will no longer be able to live in the area because of the threat against her.”

The attack on the officer came during one of the most active periods for dissident republicans. In a week, attacks were launched in Derry, Kilkeel and Bangor.

As the threat increases, SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie said |the PSNI must resume full control of intelligence gathering in |order to deal effectively with the threat.

She said MI5, which took control of intelligence gathering in Northern Ireland in 2007, is an “absolutely unaccountable, shadowy service with its own agenda and a deeply dubious record in Northern Ireland”.

“This cuts right across the grain of co-operation between people and police which must be the very bedrock of dealing with the dissident problem,” she said.

Belfast Telegraph

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