A south Armagh man who was seriously injured in a booby-trap bomb attack in Crossmaglen has lost the sight in one eye, it was confirmed today (Tuesday).
Frank McCabe Junior had been removing a poster from a telegraph pole when the device, blamed on dissidents, exploded.
Today, in the Assembly, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness echoed the condemnations of Newry and Armagh Sinn Fein MLA Mickey Brady and called for those with information to bring it forward.
Mr Brady called for condemnation of “the activities of the criminal gangs that are attempting to intimidate and coerce those in south Armagh who are opposed to them”.
Mr McGuinness said he had no hesitation whatsoever in unreservedly condemning those responsible.
He said: “I am saddened to hear that his injuries are such that he is likely to lose the sight in one eye.
“Francis is a lorry driver by trade, and this will have a huge impact on his life and family, so I totally and utterly condemn those behind the attack.
“As I have said, they are criminals and they have absolutely nothing to offer the community in south Armagh and north Louth. It is very clear to all of us how the local community has responded to this cowardly attack by taking to the streets in huge numbers in support of the McCabe family.
“These gangs have no support in the local community and they must be stopped. One way of dealing with their activities is for people in the local community, whenever criminality raises its head, to work very closely with both the police services north and south of the border.
“I extend my support and best wishes to Francis Jnr and the McCabe family and hope that he can recover from his very serious injuries.”
Mr Brady then called on the Deputy First Minister to “join with me in calling on the PSNI and an Garda Síochána to step up their activities against these criminal gangs in order to bring them to justice and ensure that we do not see a repeat of the injuries received by Mr McCabe”.
Mr McGuinness responded by paying tribute to the Garda Síochána and the PSNI for the very effective way in which they have worked together in the course of recent years in thwarting the activities of those who would attempt to use violence to undermine the institutions and destroy the peace process.
He said: “The PSNI and the Garda Síochána have a role and responsibility to deal with these criminal gangs. Both must demonstrate that they are supporting communities who oppose criminality. Actions and delivery from both police services are key, and I call for greater cooperation between the PSNI and an Garda Síochána to take these criminals, whether in south Armagh or north Louth, off the streets.
“We all understand and know that we have a particular difficulty in this part of the North of Ireland and, indeed, on the border, in relation to a very small number of people who are part of armed groups, looking to benefit financially from their criminal activities.
“The local community in south Armagh has been at the forefront in supporting the peace process and the police services, North and South.
“In fact, the McCabe family were one of those families in the area that were very proactively involved in seeking support for the Police Service in the local community. Maybe that is one of the reasons why Francis Jnr was attacked.
“The attack on Francis McCabe Jnr is, effectively, an attack on all of us who support these institutions and the change that has happened in policing here as a result of the various agreements that have been made down the years.
“I encourage everybody in society to work very closely with the police services, North and South. Do not be afraid to give information on the activities of those groups, which are acting against the interests of the local community.”
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