Archive for March, 2009
“I was very pleased indeed that the churches, representing the four main denominations, facilitated a short act of remembrance on Sunday. It was a very dignified service to remember the two soldiers murdered at Massereene and also Constable Stephen Carroll who was buried with full police honours last Friday.
For various reasons, many of us had not been able to attend the Belfast city centre act of remembrance on Wednesday last (11th). We did, nevertheless, need an opportunity to express both our collective sorrow for those murdered and our total repudiation of the men of violence.
I had been in the House of Commons on Wednesday 11th , and was deeply disappointed by the very low turnout amongst MPs when we had a short vigil to remember the three murdered men. Sunday, therefore, provided me with the first real opportunity for a meaningful act of remembrance, and I’m extremely grateful to the local churches for enabling us to stand together, pray and sing together.”
March 19th, 2009
“After the recent murder of the two young soldiers at Massereene Barracks, I was determined that a senior member of the Ministry of Defence should pay an early visit to Palace Barracks to boost morale.
So, I was delighted to welcome the Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Bob Ainsworth MP, to Palace Barracks at lunchtime on Monday. There, we had an opportunity to meet again with Brigadier George Norton, the most senior army officer in Northern Ireland, and other service personnel and their families.
My visit is intended to be the first of a series to support the wives and families during the long six-month period, after the Regiment flies out to Afghanistan. Theirs is a heavy burden to bear, while their husbands are serving so far away, and I want to do all I can to ensure they feel appreciated and supported while based in North Down.”
March 19th, 2009
“When I asked the District Commander, Chief Superintendent Graham Shields, for a meeting to discuss the recent spate of nasty, intimidating threats to several constituents in Kilcooley, there was no hesitation at all in agreeing to meet.
He, together with Inspector Mark McEwan, had an hour-long meeting in my office with representatives from Kilcooley during which concerns were openly voiced and addressed by the police. It was certainly a very worthwhile meeting, with considerable reassurance and useful advice given to all those who attended. Those responsible for the threats should desist at once from their outrageous behaviour and leave my constituents in peace to get on with the rest of their lives.”
March 19th, 2009
“I find it absolutely contemptible that constituents of mine in Kilcooley continue to be threatened. The fact that the latest threat against Mark Gordon has been even more serious than those made in the past is outrageous. I have already raised Mark’s case with the Chief Constable and have no doubt that the local police will carry on doing everything they can to identify the criminals behind this persistent campaign of intimidation.”
I condemn such intimidation without reservation, and pledge my complete support to the ‘Keep Safe’ scheme in Kilcooley and those who will not flinch from ensuring that its operation is maintained.”
March 12th, 2009
North Down’s MP, Lady Hermon, has expressed her “intense contempt and utter condemnation” for the murderers of the two soldiers at Massereene Barracks and a policeman in Craigavon:
“Last Friday, we had marked the ‘International Women’s World Day of Prayer’ at the Wesley Centenary Church in Bangor, but little did we think then that mothers and wives would, within hours, be grieving the horrific murder of their sons and husbands, all in Northern Ireland and not in some far off land. Those responsible have my intense contempt and utter condemnation.
On behalf of the many, many constituents who contacted me after Saturday night’s double murder of the soldiers at Massereene Barracks, I wrote to Brigadier George Norton, the most senior Army officer here. I expressed our collective revulsion at the murders and also expressed our deepest sympathy to the families and colleagues of Sappers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey. I’ve also talked at length to Army HQ at Lisburn and the Ministry of Defence to agree further action that I can take, within the coming days, to help the soldiers at Massereene as well as those based at Palace Barracks in Holywood.
Colleagues and I also had a meeting with Sir Hugh Orde on Monday for an update on the threat now posed by dissident republicans. That was only hours before news broke of the callous, cold-blooded murder of Constable Stephen Carroll. I couldn’t help but recall the terrible pain and anger felt by Sir Jack as Chief Constable when any of his officers was murdered. I’m so desperately sorry Sir Hugh Orde has to follow in Jack’s footsteps, behind the coffin of yet another murdered policeman. I hope to visit his widow shortly to offer profound sympathy on behalf of the people of North Down.
The entire community has been so sickened by these three murders that I am convinced information will be forthcoming to the PSNI to enable them to track down the murderers and put them before the courts.
In the meantime, if there is some act of kindness, message of support or sympathy for the Army or police that we have left undone or unsaid, then I’d like to urge you to send that text, that letter, that card or just shake a hand in friendship and solidarity with all those who so courageously continue to serve this country as police officers and soldiers.”
March 11th, 2009
“I was delighted, absolutely delighted, to visit Millisle seafront last Friday morning to see how the landscape is being transformed through the Big Lottery Fund’s ‘Breathing Places’ programme.
No matter our age, we all had great fun planting tress, lifting litter and doing some gardening. The local Community Association must be warmly complimented for being so progressive and enthusiastic about improving the whole appearance of this area.
It was a real pleasure to have local schoolchildren there, as well as representatives of the Big Lottery Fund and the Community Association. This is, of course, just the beginning of even more improvements along the seafront and I certainly look forward to the next initiative taken by the Community Association.”
March 4th, 2009