Widow of PSNI officer hails Martin McGuinness for denouncing ‘traitors'

Kate Carroll holds a picture of her murdered husband Stephen Carroll in 2010. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Kate Carroll holds a picture of her murdered husband Stephen Carroll in 2010. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Martin McGuinness "put his neck on the line" when he condemned dissidents as traitors, the widow of the first murdered PSNI officer has said.

The former IRA man took a huge step in making a public statement denouncing those behind the killing, Constable Stephen Carroll's wife Kate said.

The officer was shot dead by the Continuity IRA in Craigavon, Co Armagh, in March 2009.

He died of a single gunshot wound to the head as he sat in an unmarked police car while colleagues attended a 999 call in the Lismore Manor area.

The murder came just days after a Real IRA gun attack claimed the lives of English sappers Mark Quinsey (23) and Patrick Azimkar (21) at Massereene Army base in Co Antrim.

Mr McGuinness, speaking as deputy first minister, received a death threat after branding the killers "traitors".

He said: "These people, they are traitors to the island of Ireland. They have betrayed the political desires, hopes and aspirations of all of the people who live on this island."

At the time he admitted he had to "keep my nerve" in appealing to those within the Republican community to support the police to defeat the dissidents.

Following the news that Mr McGuinness is leaving frontline politics Mrs Carroll paid tribute to someone she said had made "great efforts to bring about change".

She told the Press Association: "I think he put his neck on the line at that particular time, to say that. People were aware that he was trying to make a change.

"It ruffled a few feathers. It clearly touched a nerve with the dissidents. That's obvious from the fact that he did receive a death threat soon after."

Mrs Carroll, who first met Mr McGuinness when he visited her Banbridge home to pay his respects alongside then first minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson, acknowledged not everyone will remember the politician in such a positive light.

She said: "I think everybody is entitled to their opinion. We all have our own mindset and we are all allowed to do our own thinking.

"All I can say is what I saw of him – and from what I saw he was trying very, very hard to make that difference.

"I just hope that whoever takes his place will have the same mindset as him, that they will have the people's interests at heart."