Tributes to Ronan Kerr at Omagh’s first ‘Pride’
A PSNI officer has paid tribute to murdered colleague, Ronan Kerr, in a moving speech at the first ever Omagh Pride event on Saturday.
Constable Kerr was killed by a dissident republican car bomb planted outside his Co Tyrone home in 2011.
PSNI LGBT+ Network Co-Chair, Paul Bloomer, told the crowd in Omagh how the two had swapped boots in the weeks before Constable Kerr’s murder.
He said: “Ronan couldn’t polish his boots for love nor money. To help him, I polished up a pair of his boots and they were a thing of beauty.
“He brought them back to me a day later, and he must have played football in them because somehow all the polish had rubbed off.
“He was parading the next day and we used to get inspected by a senior officer, so it was a big moment and he needed a pair of number one shiny boots. We had the same size feet so I gave him my number one shiny boots, and he gave me the ones he had managed to absolutely wreck.
“When Ronan was killed, I promised myself I’d keep the boots forever and only use them for special occasions.”
The audience cheered as he added: “I have worn them to every Pride event I have ever walked in, in uniform.
“Everytime I put them on, I take a minute to remember him. I am wearing them today with pride.”
He added: “It was an honour to share a memory of Ronan Kerr and remember him in his hometown on such a special day.”
Omagh’s first ever Pride parade on Saturday drew a large crowd to the town centre.
Event organiser, Cat Brogan said: “With it being our first pride parade, we didn’t really know what to expect. Nothing comes close to being able to walk through the high street and see the whole place full of rainbows.
“The overwhelming support from the people, communities and businesses of Omagh show how our society is changing and I imagine many LGBTQ+ people living in and from Omagh feel more welcome and valued than ever before.”
The parade passed a number of small protests including one by far-right Roman Catholic group, Síol na hÉireann.