Northern Ireland violence: Two held over policeman murder
A TEENAGER and a 37-year-old man were arrested today by detectives investigating the murder of a policeman in Northern Ireland.
Constable Stephen Carroll, 48, was shot in the back of the head when a gunman fired through the rear window of his unmarked patrol car.
Police said an 17-year-old boy and the man had been detained in Craigavon, Co Armagh, where the officer became the first member of the PSNI to be murdered.
Dissident republicans of the Continuity IRA have claimed responsibility.
Constable Carroll's devastated wife Kate said: "A good husband has been taken away from me and my life has been destroyed."
Constable Carroll was with two other tactical support group members providing cover, support and protection for two neighbourhood officers, when he was ambushed.
They were in a back-up car as two colleagues who had travelled separately spoke with a distressed woman after her window had been smashed.
Fearing it might be an attempt to draw them into a line of fire, they delayed their response for an hour before driving into the Lismore Manor housing development at Craigavon, Co Armagh.
The two investigating officers got out to visit the woman's house, while the other three waited.
A gunman then emerged out of the darkness and fired twice through the rear window of Constable Carroll's Skoda.
Dissidents belonging to a small and dangerous republican faction – which would have the support of a man who was once one of the Provisional IRA's most feared assassins before he quit in protest at Sinn Fein's peace strategy – have claimed responsibility.
Police later said a man in a light coloured top was seen running from the car.
Constable Carroll was just two years from retirement after serving 24 years as a policeman in Northern Ireland, much of it through the worst of the violence when the IRA's campaign was at its height.
He lived for a time in Co Kildare and Epping, Essex, before settling on a career with the Royal Ulster Constabulary. He lived in Banbridge, Co Down, with his wife Kate and stepson. He also has three grandchildren.
Last night Mrs Carroll was waiting for a telephone call to tell her when she could expect him home when there was a knock on the front door of their bungalow.
She told the Belfast Telegraph: "A good husband has been taken away from me and my life has been destroyed.
"And what for? A piece of land that my husband is only going to get six feet of. These people have just taken my life as well."
The family priest, Canon Liam Stevenson who is helping with the funeral arrangements, said: "They had plans and dreams for the future and now all this has been blown apart."
First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who delayed the start of a trip to the United States because of the security emergency, spent 20 minutes with Mrs Carroll at the house before leaving to catch a flight across the Atlantic. They drove off without making any comment.
Coming just 48 hours after the murders of two British soldiers gunned down by the Real IRA outside their military barracks at Massereene, Antrim, the killing stunned the two Stormont chiefs as well as politicians and churchmen on all sides.
Today the level of public outrage and apprehension on the streets was as high as at any time since the Real IRA bombed Omagh in August 1998, killing 29 people.
A series of trade union protest rallies are planned for tomorrow.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown led the condemnation, but even though his investigative resources are under serious pressure, the Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde who also met with Mrs Carroll, made it clear he would not be putting soldiers back on to the streets.
He briefed Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness on the police response to the crisis and immediately afterwards all three stood outside Stormont and urged everyone to back the police in helping to track down the killers.
Little separates the Real IRA, who killed the soldiers, and the Continuity IRA, and they have been known to operate together in the past, including the attack on Omagh.
Apart from heightening fears of more violence by the dissidents, the threat of so-called retaliatory action by sectarian and unpredictable loyalist paramilitary factions, especially against innocent Catholics, is a major worry for security chiefs.
Craigavon is in the Mid-Ulster area where the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) has killed dozens of victims, virtually all of them chosen at random because of their religion. Politicians and churchmen on all sides have appealed for calm.
Rank and file police representatives called for an urgent review of security measures, and there was a demand as well to bring back the SAS in a bid to thwart the developing republican threat right across Northern Ireland.
As well as the arrest of the two men, police – some wearing forensic boiler suits – also searched a number of properties close to where Constable Carroll was shot. A grassy area overlooking the scene was also examined.
After the failure to convict anybody for the Omagh massacre, Sir Hugh and his senior team is under enormous pressure to find the gunmen.
He is due to have talks on Thursday with the chief of police in the Irish Republic, Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy.
Tomorrow there is to be a special debate in the Dublin Parliament and as part of their visit to the United States Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness are due to meet President Obama at a St Patrick's Day reception next Tuesday.
The First and deputy First Ministers have major political differences, but three killings in two days left them totally united – calling for anybody with evidence to take it to the police.
British soldiers Mark Quinsey, 23, and Patrick Azimkar, 21, were shot dead outside the front gates of Massereene Military barracks at Antrim on Saturday night. Two other soldiers as well as two pizza delivery men were badly wounded.
Mr Robinson said: "The Chief Constable has our full support. We will do whatever we can to assist him and as this community moves through these difficult times the Chief Constable will know that it's a united community supporting the full rigour of law and supporting the due process of law."
Mr McGuinness said he didn't know who was responsible but appealed for information to be given to detectives.
"As I call on the people, our people, to wholeheartedly weigh in behind the police service north and south in the apprehension of these people I have to make it absolutely clear that I too have a duty and a responsibility, if I knew where individuals who are responsible for these activities are, to do as much as I expect the public to do.
"I am prepared to do my duties...but I don't know who they are."
Sir Hugh said the terrorists would not derail what had been achieved by the overwhelming majority of people during the last number of years.
He added: "These people have no support from any part of the community in Northern Ireland. They are isolated, they are dangerous, let's be clear on that, they have proved that particular point."
Tory leader David Cameron described the murders as "shocking" but insisted that they would not undermine the political progress that had been made.
"Northern Ireland is not on the brink, it is not staring into the abyss. It has been transformed over recent years and these people who committed these hideous crimes represent nobody and nothing for the future of Northern Ireland," he said.
Police chief urges local community to help track down officer's killer
Continuity IRA claim responsibility for police officer shooting
'They won't get me': Last conversation between murdered PC and his wife
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Friday 24 May 2013
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