Editor's Viewpoint: Nuala's bravery is example to us all
It is the great dread of every parent that any of their children should die before them. That seems at odds with the natural way of life but, sadly, such tragedy too often comes to pass.
How much worse is it for those parents whose children die not just by some pure chance but who are deliberately targeted by their killers. Nuala Kerr knows that horror only too well. Her son Ronan was a young police officer blown up by dissident republicans because he was a Catholic member of the PSNI.
But if the terrorists thought their vile act would either deter other Catholics from joining the force or drive a wedge between the communities in Northern Ireland they were greatly mistaken. In fact the murder of Ronan Kerr was a defining moment - and a positive one - in the nationalist community's relationship with the PSNI. And much of the credit for that must lie with his mother, Nuala.
She spoke out bravely and eloquently amidst her grief for her dead son. She urged Catholics to continue joining the police service and urged people to reject all that dissident terrorists stand for. Her appeals were echoed by politicians of all hues and the GAA and PSNI stood shoulder to shoulder at Ronan's funeral, one of the most powerful images of the new Northern Ireland and the new community spirit in the province.
Last night Nuala Kerr was a popular and deserved winner of the Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year award in recognition of her courage and her eloquence in the aftermath of her son's death. She set the tone for the whole community in rejecting violence and her voice found a resonance throughout the province. Like the other winners of awards last night she showed how women make a vital contribution to all aspects of life in Northern Ireland through their talents, compassion and simple humanity. Through their efforts our community is much enriched.