Forensic experts examining a car bomb blast site, Derry City

Ex-Sinn Fein, Independent councilor, Martin Connolly has refused to condemn the bomb attack on his niece's car over the weekend.

Last Saturday a bomb was found under the Catholic police officer's car in Kilkeel, County Down. Her family are outraged that Connolly will not condemn was could have been a fatal attack on his own niece's life.

The family issued a statement to the Irish News expressing how "deeply hurt" the family feel.

"We come from a proud nationalist background and fully support the efforts of the SDLP and Sinn Fein have put into the peace process and creating a future for all the people of Ireland, north and south, regardless of religious background," reads the statement.

"As a family we stand proudly with our family member, and support her 100% in her decision to join the PSNI to help create a better future for her and the people of Northern Ireland.

"The opinions of Martin Connolly (an uncle through marriage) and his refusals to condemn the attack beggar belief and have shocked, angered and deeply hurt us all."

Following the attempted bombing of his niece's car, Connolly said he "did not want to get into the politics of condemnation."
"It hasn't done any good in the past, nor will it do any good in the future," he said.

"The fact of the matter is - let's deal with facts and be realistic about it - while there's British occupation in Ireland there will always be opposition to that, whether you agree with it or not."

Barbara Gray, Superintendent of the Police Service Northern Ireland said that it was the targeted officer's vigilance which saved her life. The officer heard something fall from under her car and immediately raised the alarm.

She said "This was a focused and cowardly attack on the life of a police officer - an officer who works daily to protect her local community. This device was designed for one purpose - to kill and injure. We are fortunate that we are not dealing with a murder today."

Local MP Margaret Ritchie of the nationalist SDLP said "Everyone in Kilkeel will be disgusted by this attack and everyone will want to see those responsible brought to justice as soon as possible."

This attempted bombing was just one in a series of recent attacks. The bombing in Kilkeel came just days after a car bomb was detonated outside the police station at Strand Road, Derry. 

A group calling themselves Oglaigh na hEireann claimed responsibility for this attack. It is believed that they were also behind the Kilkeel car bombing.

On Tuesday there was another narrow escape as a car bomb partially exploded in Cookstown, County Tyrone. This was another deliberate attack on the authorities. The retired policeman who was the subject of the attack was unharmed.