Page last updated at 22:45 GMT, Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Craigavon: City of hope and fear

By Chris Buckler
BBC News

Policeman in Craigavon
A lot of people still think there is a war on, a resident told the BBC
Craigavon was built in the 1960s to be Northern Ireland's "new city", a place for people to live and work, with real hopes for jobs and investment.

Those ideas were wrecked by the start of the Troubles in 1969.

Forty years later, after a lengthy peace process, Craigavon has become linked to new violence and dissident republicans.

There have been some shootings and bombings in the past few years, but the murder of Pc Stephen Carroll is somehow different. People are determined to show their anger.

Hundreds gathered for a vigil just feet from where he was shot dead. The Continuity IRA said it carried out the murder.

Those taking part offered their sympathies, showed support and prayed for peace.

Peace is something they have got used to and do not want to lose.

Progress undone

Maureen McKenna stood during the cross-community service with her daughter and grandson - three generations of a Craigavon family.

Maureen set up home here almost 40 years ago, lured by the promise of the "new city".

"I came from Belfast in 1971 with my five children and my husband," she said.

"We want peace to be able to live all together, all religions. We definitely can't go back to the days of the bullet."

Not that everyone in the area is sympathetic.

Vigil in Craigavon
Thousands have attended rallies to show their anger at the recent killings

Flowers left as a tribute to Pc Carroll were set on fire the night after he died.

The nearby housing estate is home to hardline republicans with old IRA murals and new dissident republican graffiti on the walls.

Words scrawled on the side of a house criticise Sinn Fein for supporting the police.

For years mainstream republicans believed they were at war with the security forces.

It is different now that Sinn Fein sits alongside unionists in the Stormont Assembly.

Part of that process saw changes in policing - the old Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) became the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Dissident republicans, such as the Continuity IRA, still regard police officers as their enemies.

I have four grown-up boys and now we are going to fear every time they are going out
Craigavon resident Jenny

"I feel a lot of people around this area still think there is a war on," one man said.

While he insisted the majority would not support the killing of a policeman, he said there was "an element" that would.

Many of the estate's residents refused to talk about the murder. Another man simply stated: "You wouldn't like what I have to say."

However, there are families here concerned that the progress that has made Northern Ireland a better place to live could be undone.

One woman, called Jenny, was standing in her garden with her family as police searched nearby houses.

They were all worried about the potential for more violence.

"I have four grown-up boys and now we are going to fear every time they are going out," she said.

"We saw a lot of it growing up. My kids have seen none of it, until this [the murder]."

Craigavon was meant to include the nearby towns of Lurgan and Portadown.

Roads and roundabouts were built to link them together, but instead the three areas have come to represent division.

The last RUC police officers to be killed by the Provisional IRA were shot dead in Lurgan.

It was violence in Portadown that led to the death of the last RUC man murdered by loyalists.

Now Craigavon will be remembered as the place where the first officer from the Police Service of Northern Ireland died at the hands of paramilitaries.

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