Northern Ireland

Murdered policeman's widow supports dissident talks

The widow of a policeman who was murdered by dissident republicans says she supports a priest's decision to have talks with dissident's famililes.

Father Paddy O'Kane has agreed to hear dissidents' complaints about alleged police harassment.

Kate Carroll, whose husband Stephen was shot by the Continuity IRA last year, says she too would be prepared to meet dissidents.

SDLP MP Mark Durkan has also backed the County Londonderry priest's move.

Fr O'Kane, from Holy Family parish in Ballymagroarty agreed to the meeting after talks with the 32 County Sovereignty Committee, a group linked to the Real IRA.

He has criticised dissident republicans for their involvement in recent attacks but said he had a pastoral duty to listen to the families' concerns.

Mrs Carroll said: "I would speak to anyone if they could give me a plausible reason why these atrocities are taking place, I certainly would listen.

"I just can't fathom why it is continuing.

"If you speak hard and long about something, at the end of the day something is bound to go in."

'Judgement'

Mr Durkan said the priest was right to talk to people and "as a pastor his door has to be open".

"Clearly if people have brought issues to Fr Paddy O'Kane - and in this instance it is the families of people who want to talk to him - then it is absolutely right that he should do so.

"Fr Paddy is leaving himself open to whatever judgement people want to make on him, but he is also honestly reflecting what is going on.

"He is not doing this secretly and he is also making it clear that there are absolute limits to what he is doing.

Mr Durkan also said that he had personally been contacted by families "whose members have been the subject of attention by the police" and said that he had made representations to the PSNI on their behalf.

"Dissident republicans are free to come to any of us and challenge us," the Foyle MP said.

"We, in turn, can robustly argue back that a campaign of violence and disruption in Derry is doing nothing for the cause of Ireland."

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