Kate Carroll lends support to pair over funeral row

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THE widow of murdered Banbridge policeman, Constable Stephen Carroll, has hit out at the Orange Order ban on members attending Catholic funerals.

Calling the ban “antiquated”, Kate Carroll was responding to the news that Ulster Unionist Party leader Tom Elliott and former deputy leader Danny Kennedy were to be disciplined following their presence at the funeral Mass of murdered policeman Ronan Kerr. Constable Carroll was the first police officer to be killed since the formation of the PSNI after being shot in Craigavon in March 2009 by the Continuity IRA.

According to Mrs Carroll both Mr Kennedy and Mr Elliott attended his funeral in Banbridge.

She said the leaders were noble and that she totally admired them for taking their stand.

Speaking about their attendance at her husband’s funeral, she said: “It was groundbreaking.

“I was delighted to see that people as prominent as them were there to show solidarity with police.”

She said it was “extremely noble and brave” of them.

Constable Kerr was killed by a car bomb outside his home in Omagh on 2 April and along with political leaders from across Ireland, Mr Elliott and Mr Kennedy attended the PSNI man’s funeral just days later.

However both men are members of the Orange Order and are forbidden from taking part in Catholic Masses under the rules of the organisation. A complaint was made by a lodge from Sandy Row in Belfast.

The complaint alleges Mr Elliott, a former County Grand Master in Fermanagh and Assistant Secretary to the Grand Lodge of Ireland, and Mr Kennedy “have sold their principles for political expediency.”

Disciplinary hearings will now be heard, possibly as early as next month.