Ronan Kerr's killers told: 'In God's name stop'

GAA players and police officers were among mourners in the funeral procession

The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland has told mourners at the funeral of Ronan Kerr his murder was "an evil deed, an offence against God".

Constable Kerr, who was 25, was killed in Omagh on Saturday when a bomb exploded under his car.

Cardinal Sean Brady said since the murder people have been saying to the killers: "We do not want this. In God's name stop - and stop now."

Constable Kerr was buried at the Church of St Patrick in Drumduff.

Among the mourners at the funeral in Beragh, County Tyrone, were the Northern Ireland first and deputy first ministers Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny and PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott.

The leaders of Ireland's four main churches also attended.

BBC Ireland Correspondent Mark Simpson

A small corner of County Tyrone was the scene for a huge outpouring of grief as Ronan Kerr was laid to rest in the village of Beragh.

It was a deeply sad occasion, but also a remarkable one. The political leaders of Ireland - north and south - arrived together in a powerful symbol of how politicians on the two sides of the island are united against the dissidents.

As local people wiped away their tears, you could also see their admiration for this show of unity.

At the same time as the coffin of Constable Kerr was brought from his funeral mass, people in Belfast were attending a peace rally, and flags on government buildings in Dublin were flying at half-mast.

A murder designed to divide people has actually brought them closer together.

Police officers and members of Constable Kerr's Gaelic Athletic Association club, the Beragh Red Knights, formed a guard of honour and helped carry the coffin.

The GAA's joint involvement with the PSNI in the funeral service was unprecedented and has been described as highly symbolic.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack but dissident republicans have been blamed.

Addressing mourners at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Cardinal Brady said people "should not glamorise the dreadful pain and sorrow of the past".

"Parents and grandparents, I beg you, plead with your children and with your grandchildren, not to get involved with violence.

"Never let them be deceived by those who say that Ireland will be united or the union made more secure by war.

"They are wrong. It is an illusion. Violence has nothing, absolutely nothing, to offer except misery and destruction."

Beragh Red Knights and GAA Players from the Beragh Red Knights GAA team formed a guard of honour with PSNI officers

In his homily, Father John Skinnader, Mr Kerr's second cousin, said: "Ronan loved life - from an early age when he was in the cot at the bottom of the bed where Cathair (his brother) slept - he would get Caithair to pull him out of the cot in the morning so that both of them could begin a day of high mischief.

"Seeing him sitting behind the wheel of the police car last weekend - I thought to myself - there is the symbol of the new Northern Ireland."

'Warped mentality'

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster on Wednesday morning, the Irish prime minister strongly condemned the attack.

"To those who think they are doing something for Ireland, this is a warped mentality," Mr Kenny said.

"It is the mentality of the past, a very dark and violent past and it has no part in the future."

Dissident republicans remain opposed to the police and have repeatedly targeted officers in both gun and bomb attacks.

Constable Kerr, who joined the police in May 2010, is the second officer to have been killed since the Royal Ulster Constabulary became the PSNI in 2001.

Constable Stephen Carroll was shot dead in a gun attack in Craigavon in March 2009. His widow was among mourners at Constable Kerr's funeral.

Constable Kerr is survived by his mother, Nuala, a widow, two brothers, Cathair and Aaron and a sister, Dairine.

Dissident republican attacks map

1. March 2009, Massereene Barracks, County Antrim: Sappers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey are killed as they collect pizzas outside their barracks. The Real IRA said it carried out the attack

2. March 2009, Craigavon, County Armagh: Constable Stephen Carroll, 48, is shot dead as he and police colleagues answer a call for help. The Continuity IRA says it shot the policeman

3. February 2010, Braehead Road, near the Irish border: The naked and bound body of 31-year-old dissident republican Kieran Doherty is found close to Londonderry. The Real IRA says it abducted and murdered him

4. April 2011, Omagh, County Tyrone: Constable Ronan Kerr is killed after a bomb explodes under his car outside his home. Dissident republicans have been blamed

Source: BBC News reports (court cases and incidents south of the border not included)

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