Murders were attack on peace process, says Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has condemned the shooting dead of two young British army soldiers in Co Antrim last night, saying it was attack on the peace process.
Mr Adams said the perpetrators had no support and he urged Sinn Féin party members to help the police investigation.
“Last night’s attack was an attack on the peace process. It was wrong and counter productive,” the west Belfast MP said.
“Those responsible have no support, no strategy to achieve a united Ireland. Their intention is to bring British soldiers back onto the streets.
“They want to destroy the progress of recent times and to plunge Ireland back into conflict.”
Mr Adams said Irish republicans and democrats had a duty to oppose violence and to defend the peace process.
The Nort’s First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson said he had postponed a trip to the United States as a result of the shootings.
He said they were a “terrible reminder of the events of the past”.
“These murders were a futile act by those who command no public support and have no prospect of success in their campaign. It will not succeed,” he said.
In a statement today, Mr Robinson said there must not be any retaliation for the attack .
“Can I urge all of those who may be angry within the Unionist community. This is a matter to be left entirely with the police and the authorities to deal with. They are capable of dealing with it and they shall deal with it and we must give them our full support,” he said.
SDLP leader Mark Durkan said: “Those who committed it are steeped in the mindset and means of past violence.
Mr Durkan said: “Such terrorism achieves nothing but grief and injury for victims and shock and disgust across the community.
“So-called dissident republicans are not proving anything that we don’t know. We know they are opposed to peace and we know their capacity to attack, threaten, disrupt and even to kill.
“They need to understand this is not an attack on the British army but the Irish people who have voted for and value above all else peaceful politics and democratic accommodation,” he added.
Church of Ireland Primate, the Reverend Alan Harper, said the lethal attack on Massereene Barracks leaving two people dead and four injured is deeply distressing and deplorable.
”It has been clear for some time that there are forces of evil intent on destabilising our community and returning to days of confrontation such as we knew in the past but have been steadily working to move beyond.”
Ian Paisley Junior, a member of the Policing Board, said last night: “This could be a defining moment in the history of Northern Ireland.”
The Democratic Unionist member of the Northern Ireland Assembly added: “For the last 10 years, people believed things like this happened in foreign countries, places like Basra. Unfortunately it has returned to our doorstep.
“There are people who have been intent on murdering police officers or soldiers, or someone else, to strike home and galvanise support for some mad cause. This is where we are tonight.
“Some people also tried to exaggerate that message, and if this shooting is attributed to dissident republicans, then it was no exaggeration.
Local MP for the area, William McCrea, revealed that one of the pizza delivery men was a foreign national.
He added: “Not only were two young men in their early 20s brutally murdered, but also there was a determined and deliberate attack upon the young pizza deliverers as well.
“In fact the gunmen deliberately fired at them to kill them as well. There’s nothing but murder in the hearts of theses people, but one thing I can guarantee they will not defeat us, they will not win, but we will see them defeated.”
The President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, the Reverend Aian Ferguson said he was shocked and outraged by the attack.
"It is my prayer that as we are approaching the Spring with its brighter days that this attack does not herald the approach of darker days for our country,” he said.
During the prayer service, Catholic priest Father Tony Devlin said the community was united in shock and sorrow.
“We don’t want to go back to this,” he said. “Nobody wants to go back to this in any way at all. None of us want it in any way at all and we pray that those who engage in this will just stop it. Go away from it, we don’t want those years of the past, they were horrible years for everyone. In our churches today many people were crying because of the experiences they remembered from the past. They do not want it to come back again.”
Attending the service was the regimental chaplain from Massereene barracks, Reverend Philip McCormack.
He said the troops were bearing the loss of their comrades in a professional way. “It’s a very close-knit unit,” he said.
“People care a tremendous amount, they spent weeks and months training and preparing (for Afghanistan) and so anything like this will obviously have a profound impact. But they are very professional and we still have a job to do and we will mourn and deal with this and then we will do our job.”