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Letter of support to be sent to injured police officer and his family

'People are outraged and rightly so. There must be no place for such attacks by the enemies of our peace'

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Mid Ulster District Council is to write a letter of support to DCI John Caldwell and his family as councillors from all sides condemned the attack that saw him shot multiple times in front of his young son.

Speaking at council’s monthly meeting, held roughly 24 hours after two gunmen shot DCI Caldwell several times as he was putting footballs into his car with his son after a under-15s training session in Omagh, chair, Sinn Fein councillor Cora Corry said “there must be no place for such attacks by the enemies of our peace”.

“We have all heard the awful news of the attempted murder of DCI John Caldwell last night, Wednesday, February 22, in Omagh in front of his child and other young people,” she said.

“I would like to extend my solidarity to John and his family and wish him a full recovery. People are outraged and rightly so. There must be no place for such attacks by the enemies of our peace.

“I would like to propose that we send a letter to John and his family condemning the attack and sending our solidarity and well wishes to them.”

Her proposal was seconded by her party colleague, Councillor Gavin Bell before representatives of the DUP, SDLP and UUP also condemned the attack.

DUP Councillor Mark Robinson described DCI Caldwell as “just like any other ordinary man who lives and works in Co Tyrone” and condemned the “cowards” who “skulked around in the dark of night” to carry out this attack.

“I played football against John when we were much younger. Last time I was talking to him was in the swimming pool when we were both with our families,” said Councillor Robinson.

“John was just like any other ordinary man who lives and works in Co Tyrone. He chose to serve his community as a police officer but the fact he wore the police uniform gives no-one the right to shoot him.

“As a council we should offer a prayer of support to DCI Caldwell, his wider family and colleagues at this time. As a council we should condemn those who planned this attack and shot DCI Caldwell.

“Here, we have a man who was taking the fight to criminals and removing them from the streets and a few cowards skulk around in the dark and shoot him in the name of Ireland.

He continued: “I don’t know how you put logic to that but I couldn’t put logic to it 30 years ago either.

“There was no justification for shooting police officers in 1973, no justification in 1983 and no justification last night, in 2023.

“This is not the first time a republican has shot a police officer in front of his child but let’s make sure it is the last time.”

UUP Councillor Mark Glasgow said the attack served as a “stark reminder” of the past and called for the “full weight of the justice system” to be brought upon those who carried out this attack.

“We must remember in 1998, 71 per cent of people in Northern Ireland voted for the peace we have known for 25 years,” he said.

“Tonight we remember DCI John Caldwell who is fighting for his life. He is a husband, a father and a man whose career is to protect the people of Northern Ireland and enforce the law of the land in which we live.

“The people who carried out this attack must be found and must be brought before the court who will bring the full weight of the justice system upon them.

“On behalf of my UUP colleagues I pass on my thoughts and prayers to the Caldwell family for the difficult days that lie ahead.”

SDLP group leader Councillor Malachy Quinn condemned those who carried out the attack and urged them to “wise up” and “join the rest of us in the 21st century”.

“My thoughts and the thoughts of my SDLP colleagues are with DCI John Caldwell, his colleagues, family and the medical teams looking after him at this time,” he said.

“I think we are all shocked to hear about the attack. The people behind this attack represent nobody. All they are doing is causing death and mayhem for their own purposes.

“I remember when I was nine or 10 and we were listening to the news about joining the police and I asked my dad, ‘would we ever do that?’ and my dad turned round and said ‘how the hell do you have a country without proper law and order?’ and that is a basic fact.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or what you are, you cannot have a country without proper law and order and people should be free to do the job they want to do without fear of being shot in the back while they are training children playing football.

“I can’t condemn this attack strongly enough. The people who did this must be made to realise that even if they think they are doing something good or for a cause by carrying out this attack or attacks like it, they are doing nothing but causing destruction and mayhem.”

Read more: Fourth man (22) arrested in murder attempt of serving police officer


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