The people of Antrim are united in shock and grief following the Saturday night murder of two young soldiers at Massareene Barracks in the town.
They were shot dead and four others, including two pizza delivery men, were injured in the attack which took place as the soldiers took a delivery of pizzas just hours before they were due to leave Northern Ireland.
The Bishop of Connor, the Right Rev Alan Abernethy, has described by killings by republican dissidents the Real IRA as “an evil act that cannot be justified.”
The Bishop said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved, the injured and all who are devastated by this awful moment.
“This awful incident is a reminder to us of how much still has to be done by all of us in pursuing peace. We are still a very deeply divided society. Politicians, church people and communities have much to do not to be deflected by evil and to ensure our words and actions speak of peace.”
The Bishop went on: “We must not let evil deflect us from building peace together.”
The Most Rev Alan Harper, OBE, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, described the murders of the two soldiers and the injuring of four others as “deeply distressing and deplorable.”
“I send my heartfelt sympathy to those who have been bereaved or injured,” the Archbishop said. “It has been clear for some time that there are forces of evil intent on destabilising our community and returning to days of confrontation such as we knew in the past but have been steadily working to move beyond.
“Across our community, efforts must be redoubled to create a respectful and inclusive society that ensures that there is no place in our midst for agents of terror. We remember those affected by this incident as we continue to pray for a sustained peace.”
The murdered soldiers have been named as Mark Quinsey, 23, from Birmingham and Cengiz 'Patrick' Azimkar, 21, from Wood Green, London. They were due to fly to Afghanistan in the hours after the attack. The rest of 38 Engineer Regiment is understood to have now left the base for Afghanistan.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited Massereene Barracks on Monday morning, March 9, before travelling on to meet political leaders in Stormont.