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Jo Cox murder an echo of Northern Ireland's past - politicians pay tribute to slain Westminster colleague

By David Young

Politicians from Northern Ireland have paid tribute to murdered MP Jo Cox.

DUP MP Nigel Dodds - who was the target of an IRA attack in a Belfast hospital 20 years ago - described it as "truly shocking and horrific".

"We know only too well the kinds of dangers faced by public representatives and therefore we can sympathise more strongly, knowing how family, friends and the community feel at this terrible time," he said.

The mood in Westminster yesterday was "very dark" the MP explained. "Everybody's devastated, they can't take it," he said.

Ms Cox is the first MP to be murdered in office since 1990, when Ian Gow became the last to die at the hands of republican terror groups. He was killed by an IRA car bomb at his Sussex home.

Sir Anthony Berry MP died in the 1984 IRA bombing of the Tory conference at Brighton's Grand Hotel.

The IRA also claimed the life of Ulster Unionist MP Robert Bradford, shot dead aged 40 in a community centre in 1981.

The INLA also murdered Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Airey Neave, whose car was blown up at Westminster in 1979.

Mr Dodds said yesterday's attack had brought back memories of when the IRA opened fire on the children's ward where he was visiting his sick son in the Royal Hospital.

"It's hard to believe that 20 years have passed - it seems like yesterday," he added.

"Jo Cox was someone who was full of life and energy, who was just new into Westminster and had a great career in front of her. To see that all just taken away in seconds in this attack is just appalling."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said: "The shadow of violence has once again been cast over democracy. But it is the spirit, the passion and the unimpeachable character of people like Jo and her husband, Brendan, that makes us stronger than those who carry out this kind of brutality."

UUP MP Danny Kinahan said: "Whilst any of us who go forward into elected politics recognise that often we will be at the receiving end of frustration and abuse, nobody, including MPs, should be subjected to violence."

And Lagan Valley DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson, said: "I remember the day the Rev Robert Bradford was murdered, and the shock and devastation that inflicted on his family."

Mr Donaldson, who himself was the target of a murder plot, added: "This murder is an assault on democracy in the UK, which we must all stand together to resist."

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