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Protest in support of PSNI Constable Stephen Carroll's murderers 'disgraceful', says DUP's Lockhart

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The DUP MP for Upper Bann, Carla Lockhart, called on elected representatives to stand together in opposition to the event

The DUP MP for Upper Bann, Carla Lockhart, called on elected representatives to stand together in opposition to the event

The DUP MP for Upper Bann, Carla Lockhart, called on elected representatives to stand together in opposition to the event

A protest against the imprisonment of two men convicted of the murder of a PSNI officer has been slammed as a " disgraceful" event calculated to "cause hurt and insult".

"March for Justice Ireland" has organised the protest for supporters of Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton, who were convicted in 2012 for PSNI Constable Stephen Carroll's killing.

Constable Carroll (48) from Banbridge, Co Down, was shot dead after police were lured to a call-out in Craigavon on March 9, 2009.

He was the first police officer killed at the hands of paramilitaries in Northern Ireland since the formation of the PSNI in 2001. The Continuity IRA admitted responsibility for the murder.

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Stephen Carroll

Stephen Carroll

Stephen Carroll

Brendan McConville (42) and 22-year-old John Paul Wootton were later sentenced to 25 and 14 years in jail for the murder, a conviction which was upheld on appeal by the High Court in 2014.

The March for Justice Ireland protest is set to take place on Saturday, March 28, in Lurgan, meeting at the war memorial in the town.

This event is an obvious attempt by dissident republicans to provoke a reaction from which they can use to feed their campaign of terrorism DUP MP Carla Lockhart

DUP Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart said to hold the event less than two miles from the scene of Constable Carroll's murder is a "deliberate attempt to glorify terrorism" and an insult to the slain officer's loved ones.

"For the organisers to choose the war memorial in Lurgan to assembly is a further deliberate and calculated attempt to cause hurt and insult," she added.

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Brendan McConville who was jailed for Stephen's murder

Brendan McConville who was jailed for Stephen's murder

Brendan McConville who was jailed for Stephen's murder

"The organisers of this disgraceful gathering describe is as being for 'justice'. Justice was served, however, when Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton were found guilty of murder and when their appeal was rejected.

"This event is an obvious attempt by dissident republicans to provoke a reaction from which they can use to feed their campaign of terrorism."

A poster for the event says the protest is to "highlight the ongoing injustice wrought upon two innocent men, Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton. The Craigavon Two, innocent men in prison for a crime they did not commit."

Ms Lockhart said she would ask the PSNI to give an assessment of whether they believe the protest is likely to lead to a breach of the peace.

"If it is to proceed, however, then there must be an assurance from the PSNI that it will be policed adequately and particularly that evidence gathering capability will be in place to identify and prosecute anyone involved in a breaking the law," she said.

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John Paul Wootton

John Paul Wootton

John Paul Wootton

"Terrorism has always been wrong, whether in past decades or the present day. The continued glorification of those who engage in violence only serves to drag Northern Ireland backwards.

"I would hope that all elected representatives within Lurgan can stand together in opposition to this disgraceful event.”

Belfast Telegraph