Former Mayor recalls horror of hospital scene

Ronnie Harkness.
Ronnie Harkness.
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A RARE show of unity took place at Craigavon Council this week as councillors of all parties condemned the killing of Davy Neill and called for a knife amnesty.

Leading the condemnations, Mayor Carla Lockhart said nothing warrants the loss of life and sympathised with the grieving family.

“This stabbing follows on from another a couple of weeks ago. I think that there should be another knife amnesty in Craigavon and I am looking for this co-operation through the work of the PCSP (Policing and Community Safety Partnership).”

Chairman of the PCSP, Councillor Alan Carson described how he was at Craigavon Hospital when Mr Neill was brought in.

“I witnessed the situation in Craigavon Area Hospital on Saturday night, and if the perpetrators could only see the devastation caused, perhaps they would think twice before carrying out these actions.

“And in a short space of time the scene I experienced was absolutely horrific. I was there when the daughter was informed of her father’s death.

“It will live with me for the rest of my life. I couldn’t sleep that night. It’s an absolute tragedy what has happened,” he said.

“It is horrific what has happened and my heart goes out to the family circle. Hopefully whoever carried this out will be brought to justice.

“Murder is murder and should be dealt with in a more severe manner.”

Ulster Unionist Ronnie Harkness said Mr Neill’s daughter Nicole attended Drumgor Primary School while he was principal. “Mr Neill’s death has cast a huge shadow not just over Parkmore but the whole district.

“This incident in Parkmore has brought untold grief to the Neill family.”

Mr Harkness called for the Justice Minister to introduce a knife amnesty throughout Northern Ireland - “even if it saves one life it will be worth it”.

“In the meantime the Neill family will suffer a lifetime of grief,” he said.

SDLP Cllr Joe Nelson also offered his sympathies to the family. He urged the council to press for a knife amnesty. “Let’s work together to get knives off our streets,” he said.

Alliance Cllr Conrad Dixon said: “I am shocked that somebody could carry out such a vicious attack that left a man dead. There can never be any justification for carrying out such a crime.

“I would like to express my condolences to the family and friends of this man. This is obviously a desperately sad day for them.”

He added that he would personally speak to the Justice Minister regarding a knife amnesty.

Sinn Fein Cllr Liam Mackle echoed the sentiments of other councillors and offered his thoughts and sympathy to the family. He said Sinn Fein would work with all parties towards a knife amnesty.

The Mayor pointed out that the chamber was united in sympathy for the Neill family.

Sinn Fein Cllr Johnny McGibbon said: “As a local authority we should do what we can.” He asked that a letter be sent to the Department detailing all violent incidents locally in the borough and make it clear that the matter is urgent.