Pastor mourns loss of upright father


A MESSAGE from two-year-old Katie Graham, daughter of Constable John Graham shot dead by the IRA in Lurgan on Monday simply read: "To Dad, I love you. I will never know someone as kind and gentle as you, love, Katie".

Another message read: "To the best Dad in the world, love, Rebecca". There was also "Dear Dad, I want to let you know we love you and we miss you, love, Abigail."

Pastor Edward Betts who conducted the service at Tandragee Baptist Church in Co Armagh said he wanted to grab the "evil men" and show them the suffering they had caused.

Pastor Betts said: "We are confounded and confused by the situation that confronts us. We are conscious that our community has been once again devastated by wicked men.

"We pray that You keep a steady hand on our community today. We pray for those in authority that You will bless them and guide them, and, through God, we ask that sanity might return to this land in which we live."

"This community has got into the groove of denouncements and political rhetoric, and it leads us nowhere. The only hope that there is for this community is when you and I and everybody else turn to God and His Word and do exactly what he says.

"No cause on God's earth can ever justify such actions," said Pastor Betts. He described Mr Graham, who lived in Richhill, Co Armagh, as "a great family man. He obviously loved his family."

"He was not a man that was perfect, but he was an upright man, a good man, a decent man, a man that would have not one shred of sectarian hatred in his heart, a man that would not know what it would be to do somebody a wrong turn, a man who would have gone the extra mile to help anybody.

"On Monday morning he was taken from us. That's why we're sad. That's why our hearts are hurting. It just all seems so senseless," he said.

Pastor Betts said Mr Graham's widow, Rosemary, and her family appreciated the condolences from all sections of the community.

Attending the civilian funeral were Lord Caledon, representing Queen Elizabeth; Mr Brendan McGahon TD; Senator Shane Ross; the RUC Chief Constable, Mr Ronnie Flanagan; the Assistant Chief Constable, Mr Freddie Hall; representatives of the Garda Siochana; the SDLP councillor Ms Brid Rodgers; the Mayor of Craigavon, Mr Ken Twyble; and Armagh councillors, Mr Jim and Mr Eric Speers.

Mr Graham was buried at Letter near Lough Erne, Co Fermanagh.