Northern Ireland

Family anger at uncle's remarks on Kilkeel attack

Scene of security alert in Kilkeel
Image caption Nearby homes in the area were evacuated while police examined the scene

The family of a police officer targeted in an attempted bomb attack have expressed their anger at the refusal of another family member to condemn it.

On Saturday, a bomb was found under the car of a Catholic officer in Kilkeel.

The officer's uncle through marriage, Martin Connolly - an independent councillor who left Sinn Fein three years, declined to condemn the attack.

In a statement to the Irish News, another uncle said the family had been "deeply hurt" by Mr Connolly's actions.

"We come from a proud nationalist background and fully support the efforts of the SDLP and Sinn Fein have put into the peace process and creating a future for all the people of Ireland, north and south, regardless of religious background," the statement said.

"As a family we stand proudly with our family member, and support her 100% in her decision to join the PSNI to help create a better future for her and the people of Northern Ireland.

"The opinions of Martin Connolly (an uncle through marriage) and his refusals to condemn the attack beggar belief and have shocked, angered and deeply hurt us all."

Mr Connolly had said he "did not want to get into the politics of condemnation".

"It hasn't done any good in the past, nor will it do any good in the future," he said.

"The fact of the matter is - let's deal with facts and be realistic about it - while there's British occupation in Ireland there will always be opposition to that, whether you agree with it or not."

Disgust

Police condemned the attack calling it "cowardly and callous".

The PSNI's Supt Barbara Gray said the attack was foiled by the vigilance of the targeted officer after the device fell from under her car.

Supt Gray asked anyone with information to come forward and added: "This was a focused and cowardly attack on the life of a police officer - an officer who works daily to protect her local community. This device was designed for one purpose - to kill and injure. We are fortunate that we are not dealing with a murder today."

Local MP Margaret Ritchie of the nationalist SDLP said the people of Kilkeel "stand with the officer and against those who would bring destruction and murder into this peaceful community".

"Everyone in Kilkeel will be disgusted by this attack and everyone will want to see those responsible brought to justice as soon as possible," she said.

The attempted attack came days after a car bomb exploded outside Strand Road police station in Londonderry.

No-one was injured in the attack which happened at 0320 BST on Tuesday, but several businesses were badly damaged.

A day later an organisation calling itself Oglaigh na hEireann claimed it was behind the attack.

It is thought that dissidents were also behind a failed attack to murder a soldier in a booby-trap car bomb attack in Bangor on Wednesday.