A newly graduated Northern Irish police officer was murdered outside his home in what is being condemned as a dissident republican bomb attack in Omagh, County Tyrone.
Ronan Kerr (25) died when a device planted under his car exploded just before 4pm on Saturday. He was leaving his home to start his shift at the Enniskillen Police Station in Fermanagh.
One hour before the bomb detonated a charity fun run with 2,000 competitors had pass by the area.
When the bomb detonated in the small housing development neighbors rushed to help the police officer, some with fire extinguishers, in an attempt to save him.
Kerr was a Catholicwho lived at Highfield Close in Gortin Road, outside Omagh. He had graduated from police training college last December. He was a former pupil of the Christian Brothers School in Omagh.
Police are appealing to the public for information. No group has claimed responsibility for the crime but it is being blamed on the dissident republicans.
His murder has prompted crisis talks between the Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) chief constable Matt Baggot, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Northern Secretary Owen Paterson and Stormont justice Minister David Ford, reports the Irish Times.
Baggot paid tribute to his colleague. He said “We have lost one of our brave and courageous police recruits, some one who joined this fine service simply to do good, joined to serve the community impartially and to be someone I describe as a modern-day hero.”
Superintendent Pauline Shields said “He has literally been with us for weeks…In those few weeks that he has served this community he has made an indelible mark on those colleagues and those members of the public with whom he has come into contact.”
Political, community and the four main churches leaders around Ireland and Britian has condemned the murder.
Cardinal Sean Brady said “I implore the perpetrators of this shameful killing to realise the futility of their actions, and to call off this senseless campaign."
Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny called the murder a “heinous and pointless act of terror”. He said “Those who carried it out want to drag us back to the misery and pain of the past. They are acting in defiance of the Irish people. They must know that they can never succeed in defeating the democratic will of the people.”
Eamon Gilmore, Tanaiste (Vice Pime Mnister) said “Those behind such violence have no mandate and are acting contrary to the democratic will of the people of Ireland, North and South.”
Ireland’s President Mary McAleese said “This heinous crime will not succeed in its evil intent of destroying the peaceful and democratic future to which the people of Northern Ireland are so clearly committed.”
Northern Ireland First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson said “It was a young man who was bravely entering the police service, recognising that he was putting his life on the line.
“I have absolutely no doubt the overwhelming number of people in NI want to move on. It's only a few Neanderthal who want to go back. They will not drag us back to the past.”
Gerry Adams, Sinn Féin president said “I want to condemn what happened in Omagh this afternoon. I want to send my condolences to his family at this hugely traumatic time.”
Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron said “I utterly condemn the murder of a young police officer today in Omagh, who had dedicated himself to serving the entire community of Northern Ireland…I know that the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland will not rest until the perpetrators have been brought to justice.
“For our part, the British government stands fully behind the Chief Constable and his officers as they work to protect Northern Ireland from terrorism. And we, with our partners in the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish Government, stand four square behind the people of Northern Ireland who have said time and again they want a peaceful, shared future.”
Northern Secretary Owen Paterson, said the murder was “an evil act, carried out by enemies of the whole community…The people in all parts of Ireland and beyond want peace and those who carried out this atrocity are in the grip of an obscene delusion if they think that by murder they can defy their will.”
Omagh has been touched once again by tragedy. Thirteen years ago, in 1998, 29 people were killed when a car bomb was planted by the Real IRA. This was just four months after the Good Friday agreement was signed. The victims of the 1998 crime included Protestants, Catholics and Mormons, children, teens and a woman pregnant with twins. National and international outcry following the crime force the RIRA to apologize and spurred on the peace process.
Kerr is the second police officer to be murdered in Northern Ireland since the PSNI was established in 2001. In March 2009, Stephen Carroll was shot dead by the Continuity IRA when he answered a called in Craigavon, County Armagh. He was also Catholic.