Robinson and Kenny to attend Kerr funeral

IN what will be seen as a symbolic condemnation of the killing, both Taoiseach Enda Kenny and unionist First Minister Peter Robinson are both set to attend the funeral of murdered Catholic PSNI officer Ronan Kerr.

The rare sight of a senior ranking Democratic Unionist Party figure at a Catholic funeral is a telling sign of the cross-community abhorrence of the 25-year-old’s murder.

However, as figures from across the political spectrum both north and south spoke out against the dissident republicans responsible, police in the north were expressing the fear that the killers may already have identified their next target, and will continue to try to kill more officers.

Detectives have revealed information on their inquiries into the explosion that killed Constable Kerr as he got into his black Ford Mondeo car on Saturday afternoon.

Detective Superintendent Raymond Murray said the under-car device was probably detonated using a mercury tilt switch and was housed in a grey plastic container.

He believed the device could have been brought into the Highfield housing estate anytime from last Thursday onwards. The detective said the device included a safety timer but that was probably not the means of detonating it.

“We believe it may be up to 500g of high explosives, that is an initial forensic assessment,” he said. “History and previous attacks of this nature tell us the most likely means of detonation is a tilt switch, however we cannot confirm that and we have not closed our minds to options.”

Teammates of Ronan Kerr in the Beragh Red Knights GAA club said the violent extremists who killed him had claimed the life of “an Irishman and a Gael”.

The cross-community outrage over the murder was underlined by the words of Red Knights chairman Gearóid Ó Treasaigh who said Ronan’s decision to join the police enjoyed the support of his teammates.

“Ronan Kerr was a Catholic, an Irishman and a Gael who joined the PSNI because he wanted to play his part in making our society a better place,” he said. “Many members of our club were aware of Ronan’s career path and supported him on his choice.

“The GAA stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the Kerr family, the PSNI, and the entire community in condemning outright this murder.

“We also send a strong message today to all of those people who continue to engage in this activity — you have no support in our community and your actions do not represent the views and feelings of the vast majority of people in Ireland.”

The north’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness branded those who killed Mr Kerr as enemies of the people of Ireland.

“They are involved in a useless war against peace,” he said. “They are enemies of the peace, they are the enemies of the people of Ireland.”

After the constable’s heartbroken mother Nuala Kerr urged Catholics not to be dissuaded from joining the police, the Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister spoke of his deep pride in the young nationalists and republicans who had chosen to wear the uniform of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

“I am as proud of them as Nuala Kerr is of Ronan. And I think that needs to be said loud and clear.”

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