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Beragh, Belfast, United

Stuart Bailie | 18:28 UK time, Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Just as they were laying the body of Ronan Kerr to rest in Beragh, the people of Belfast were gathered at the City Hall to mark the occasion. There were union banners, school blazers and old punks. Some carried photos of the murdered policeman while others were tweeting and re-sending those affirmative images into the aether. What seemed to be a modest turn-out suddenly blossomed around 1pm until you could see many thousands of people far down Royal Avenue, keen to be present.

The piper played Amazing Grace, there were short speeches and a moment's silence. When it was done, I walked back along Bedford Street with some friends from the BBC. There was no need to labour the point of the demonstration but there was some anxiety about the effect of it all. Would a self-regarding killer be remotely dissuaded by all those people, quietly gathered?

A friend responded. "You're doing it for yourself, at the end of the day."

He might be correct. You're reassuring your fibres that you're against all that, you're standing with people who feel alike and you're holding onto seconds of silence in response to a brutal conflagration. There will be more to do, some other time.


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