Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Brutal shooting has shocked community

Editor's Viewpoint

As police yesterday released CCTV footage of the gunman who killed Jim Donegan in west Belfast, the full horror of the appalling crime became apparent.

The killer casually strolled along the Glen Road to where his victim was parked in his distinctive car before shooting him several times. While the actual killing was not portrayed, it was clear that the gunman knew the area was packed with schoolchildren just leaving their classrooms.

Among those children was the son of the victim, and whatever the background to this murder, no child should ever see his father just after he has been gunned down. That young boy ran screaming back to his school, but the image of his father dead or dying undoubtedly will traumatise his young life for many years to come. As it also will those of the many other pupils who either witnessed the murder or came on the scene immediately afterwards.

Those of us who lived through the Troubles became inured to the almost daily death toll, but today's generations used to our imperfect peace are rightly shocked to the core at the violence which visited the Glen Road.

The schoolchildren there at the time know nothing of the horror of violence or the subterranean worlds of dissident republicans or feuding gangs - two of the prime suspects in the killings - and we should be glad of that. But it makes explaining what happened so much more difficult. How can those children process the idea that someone can simply walk up to another human being and commit them to eternity in the most brutal fashion?

Observers noted that the local community's abhorrence of what happened in their area was more vociferous than on other occasions. They recognise that the only legitimate law and order force is the PSNI and that others who would take the law into their own hands are beyond the Pale.

A sickening murder of this nature - the victim was an easy target waiting in an easily recognisable car for his son to come out of school - may be the catalyst for greater public cooperation with the PSNI.

The killer apparently did not fear identification, but if eyewitnesses can give the police enough detailed information, he may one day be brought to the justice he deserves.

Praise is due to teachers and community workers who worked hard to console parents and pupils in the aftermath of the killing. Without them, the trauma would have been even more widespread.

High praise a feather in cap for NI's hospitality industry

These are challenging times for the fiercely competitive hospitality industry, and it is a huge boost that four of our local public houses have been singled out for praise by renowned food and drink experts, one of them the step-son of Prince Charles.

Tom Parker Bowles picked out three of the province's oldest pubs, The Crown and Kelly's Cellars in Belfast and the Crosskeys Inn near Toome, as among the UK's cosiest.

Belfast's White's Tavern was the only one to make the list of Olly Smith's top spots, but these mentions carry enormous weight nationally and internationally and cement Northern Ireland's position as a place to visit. Changed days.

Belfast Telegraph

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