Page last updated at 18:44 GMT, Friday, 13 March 2009

Shot officer 'won't be forgotten'


Sir Hugh Orde pays tribute to his fallen officer at the service

The police officer murdered by dissident republicans in County Armagh will not be forgotten, mourners at his funeral have been told.

Constable Stephen Carroll, 48, was shot while on duty in Craigavon on Monday.

Thousands of people lined the streets outside St Therese Church in his hometown of Banbridge, County Down, where funeral mass was held.

A third man, in his 20s, has been arrested over the murder. Police have until Tuesday to question two others.

At Requiem Mass, Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde struggled to hold back tears as he told mourners: "We promise we will not forget him."

The congregation applauded as he left the altar.

The cortege had earlier left Constable Carroll's home, led by a lone piper and flanked by police officers.

It carried wreaths with the messages 'brother', 'son' and 'uncle'. The coffin was draped in a Police Service of Northern Ireland flag.

In the church Constable Carroll's police cap, gloves and medals were placed on a table next to his coffin along with a Manchester United shirt.

The cortege makes its way to the church

The Catholic Bishop of Dromore, the Most Rev John McAreavey, delivered a direct message to the killers.

"You are greatly mistaken, your way of thinking is backward-looking, the people of Ireland and Britain have chosen a better way forward, the way of reconciliation and accommodation," he told the congregation.

"We are determined not to allow ourselves to be dragged back into the morass of hatred and violence."

In his homily, Canon Liam Stevenson said the murder and that of two soldiers were meant to "destabilise" Northern Ireland's peace process.

"We certainly do not want to lose the peace. We will not lose the peace," he said.

"The word patriotism has been used in many different ways by many different people down the years. Tragically this word is one of the most abused words in the English language.

The coffin containing PC Carroll is carried to the church by police officers. His widow, Kate, is seen on the left.
A perfectly laudable aspiration such as patriotism is robbed of its intrinsic value when it's allied to violence and death in pursuit of its objectives
Canon Liam Stevenson

"A perfectly laudable aspiration such as patriotism is robbed of its intrinsic value when it's allied to violence and death in pursuit of its objectives."

Senior police officers from the UK and Ireland, including An Garda Siochána Commissioner Fachtna Murphy, attended the mass.

Also in attendance were local political leaders, including a delegation from Sinn Féin, joined by Secretary of State Shaun Woodward and the most senior Army officer in Northern Ireland, Brigadier George Norton.

Ulster Unionist MP Lady Sylvia Hermon, whose late husband Jack was an RUC chief constable, sat next to John O'Dowd from Sinn Féin.

Speaking on Thursday, Mr Carroll's widow Kate said: "I feel now that I'm dead inside."

Addressing her husband's killers she asked them to realise that "a piece of land is a piece of land".

"At the end of the day my husband's just going to get six foot by six foot and that's all any of us are going to get," she said.

It was the first murder of a police officer in Northern Ireland since 1998, as well as the first time that a PSNI officer had been murdered by paramilitaries since the force was formed in 2001.

The Continuity IRA said it carried out the murder.

Two days before Constable Carroll's murder, two soldiers were shot dead by the Real IRA at Massereene barracks in Antrim.

A third man, in his 20s, was arrested on Friday by police investigating Constable Carroll's murder.

Police have been granted an extension until Tuesday to continue questioning two people, a youth aged 17 and a man aged 37.

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