11 March 2009

Mass Demostrations for Peace in Ireland

The first terrorist murder of a PSNI officer has led to an unprecedented wave of condemnation and a widespread rejection of the terror that criminal splinter groups are trying to bring to the British-ruled Six Counties of Ulster once again.

Tens of thousands of people have joined peace rallies in the North of Ireland today, in protest against the brutal killings of a local policeman in Co. Armagh on Monday and two British soldiers in Co. Antrim last Saturday.

Separate rallies were held in Belfast, Lisburn, Newry, Downpatrick and Derry, showing solidarity for peace in Ireland and condemnation of the two deadly attacks for which two terrorist splinter groups have claimed responsibility.

In Belfast traffic in the streets around the City Hall was brought to a standstill as thousands of people gathered for a rally organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU).
The protesters observed a couple of minutes' silence and a lone piper played 'Amazing Grace' and 'Abide with me'.

"The callous attacks of the last few days were an assault on every citizen who supports peace," ICTU's assistant general secretary Peter Bunting told the crowd.
“This show of strength from civil society will send a clear message to the killers who do not deserve the monopoly of the word ‘dissident’. The word is too good for them. They are nothing but delinquents.”

Several speakers from the Irish Trade Union movement addressed the gatherings in the other cities.

Meanwhile this afternoon in London about two dozen British MPs from various parties stood in silence outside the Houses of Parliament in solidarity with those who have been taking part in protest marches and silent vigils against the killings in the North of Ireland .
The Republic of Ireland was represented at this event by the Charge d'Affaires at our London embassy, Mr. Kevin Conmy.

Tonight more than 500 local people gathered for a silent vigil in Craigavon, Co. Armagh close to the spot where PSNI Constable Stephen Carroll was shot dead by terrorists on Monday evening.

Earlier today Pope Benedict XVI also condemned the recent violence in Ireland in a speech at the Vatican.
"I condemn in the strongest terms these abominable acts of terrorism which, apart from desecrating human life, seriously endanger the ongoing peace process in Northern Ireland," the Pontiff said during his weekly general audience.
"I ask the Lord that no one will again give in to the horrendous temptation of violence," he added.

In a separate development, the historian and senior Sinn Féin politician Tom Hartley (right), currently the Lord Mayor of Belfast, is having talks with members of the Unionist Ulster Political Research Group, which has links to loyalist paramilitary groups in the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

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