SAM Gardiner MLA, the Ulster Unionist Assembly Member for Upper Bann, has expressed his deep sorrow at the death of Lance Corporal Stephen McKee.
“The terrible death toll among our troops exacted by roadside bombs in Afghanistan, especially in Helmand Province, gives us all a deep sense of grief and sadness,” said Mr Gardiner.
“I want to extend my deepest and sincerest sympathies to Stephen’s wife, parents Heather and Bobby, brothers Michael, Gareth and Robert and sisters Kelly and Rebecca. “As a family they have so much to be proud of since I understand that Stephen’s brothers, father-in-law and cousin have all served with the Royal Irish Regiment.
“His name joins the distinguished list of those who have given their lives in active service and we must never forget that sacrifice. His commanding officer described him as “the finest of men.” His loss will be irreparable.
“It is so important for us as a community to remember those who have made the supreme sacrifice. Terrorism is a curse worldwide. Stephen’s uncle Richard was also murdered by terrorists – in that case not the Taliban but the IRA.
“We should never forget what Stephen was standing up for - for freedom, for freedom from fear, for liberty, for democracy and for human decency. Terrorism worldwide is the exact opposite of all those values.
“Banbridge should be proud of its fallen son and it should never forget his sacrifice.”