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Officer’s widow: my tears after murder bid on Peadar

By Claire McNeilly

The widow of the first PSNI officer killed by dissident republicans has hit out at the terror gang who left a young Catholic policeman fighting for his life.

TKate Carroll, whose husband Stephen was shot dead last March, said she “cried all day” after hearing about the attempted murder of Peadar Heffron earlier this month, and said her prayers were with the critically injured officer and his family.

Constable Heffron, from Randalstown, was the victim of a booby-trap car bomb that exploded on his way to work on January 8. The 33-year-old, an Irish speaker and captain of the PSNI's Gaelic football team, was pulled from the vehicle to safety but had to have his right leg amputated as a result of his injuries.

Just days ago he regained consciousness at Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital with his wife of five months Fiona at his bedside.

Last March PC Carroll (48) was gunned down by the Continuity IRA in Craigavon after responding to reports of suspicious activity in the area.

His death followed the Real IRA murder of two young soldiers at Massereene Army base in Antrim.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mrs Carroll (59) said the news brought back terrible memories of her husband’s brutal murder.

“Thinking about poor Peadar has really upset me,” she said.

“I cried my heart out all day after I heard the news. I have been praying ever since for that young man.

“When I heard he was pulling through I fell to my knees and thanked God for saving his life.”

Constable Heffron had been on his way to work at Woodbourne PSNI station in west Belfast and had driven about a mile from his home when the bomb exploded on the Milltown Road.

Mrs Carroll said she utterly condemned those behind the incident — which bore a striking resemblance to a car bomb attack on a police officer's partner in east Belfast last year.

She said: “At the end of the day they’re killing people — not faceless uniforms. These are real men and women.”

Last October Mrs Carroll was invited to watch the final of the International Police Gaelic Football Tournament at Newforge Country Club in Belfast.

There she met officers from the New York Police Department (NYPD), London Metropolitan Police Service and An Garda Siochana, as well as the PSNI.

Two NYPD policemen, Luke and Noel, contacted her after they heard what happened to Constable Heffron.

“Luke said he was absolutely astounded and disgusted that Irishmen would kill fellow Irishmen,” she said. “Luke told me that himself and 150,000 fellow police officers in the NYPD and elsewhere in the United States were praying for Peadar — and for Steve, one of their fallen heroes.”

She added: “Noel also told me that a number of American policemen would’ve been over to supply Peadar with blood, had he needed it to stay alive.”

The grandmother-of-four also revealed that she will travel to the Big Apple as guests of the NYPD officers to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day this year.

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