Northern Ireland news

Paddy Kielty says news of John Caldwell attack invoked tragic memories of his father being shot

Comedian Patrick Kielty was on his way to his home village of Dundrum when he heard about the shooting in Omagh. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Suzanne McGonagle

PADDY Kielty has revealed he was travelling back to Co Down when news emerged of the attempted murder of DCI John Caldwell, invoking tragic memories of his father being shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries.

The comedian was on his way to his home village of Dundrum when he heard about the shooting in Omagh, which he said "brought me back to the 25th of January 1988".

He added that the "only thought going through my head was please god no one’s having that chat with John’s son".

Kielty was among the guests on Colin Murray’s BBC Radio 5 Live show on Tuesday to discuss the attack on the PSNI officer, which left him in a critical condition.

Appearing alongside actor Jimmy Nesbitt and BBC presenter Holly Hamilton, they gave their reaction to the attempted murder attempt last week.

After drawing comparisons to the day he found out his father Jack Kielty had been murdered by loyalist paramilitaries, Kielty also spoke of the poignancy that the shooting had happened in Omagh, the scene of the 1998 Real IRA bomb attack.

"Of all the places for somebody to try to take us back, that city has seen enough, enough pain," he said.

But he said "when you look at the transformation of Northern Ireland from that first ceasefire, from the Omagh bomb, from the Good Friday Agreement, no one’s going back".

"It’s really important people in the rest of the UK realise we’re a different place and a different people," he said.

"The muscle memory of what was doesn’t change the fact that NI is absolutely thriving despite politics that doesn’t quite work."

He also said not only is Northern Ireland "not only are we don’t going back, I think the future’s bright".

Coleraine-born actor Nesbitt also described hearing the news about last week's gun attack was "like a jolt", adding that it was a "terrifying reminder of a time I thought had gone away".

He added that "your thoughts immediately go to his family and to the young boys who witnessed this" and that the majority of people in the north did not want "to be dragged back" to the past.

Television presenter Ms Hamilton, who is originally from Greyabbey, said the gun attack "reminds you how precariously our peace is balanced".

She said she believed "we were moving away" from violence, but "suddenly my son’s going to grow up and be conscious of it".

Northern Ireland news