Ulster Unionist Leader Mike Nesbitt MLA and the party’s Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy MLA, have paid tribute to Drummer Lee Rigby who was so brutally murdered in Woolwich last Wednesday.
Speaking during a “Matter of the Day” motion, proposed by the Ulster Unionist Party, Strangford MLA Mr Nesbitt said;
“This is the first occasion on which the House has had an opportunity to say a few words since the barbaric murder of Lee Rigby last Wednesday. I believe that many are looking to us, their political and civic leaders, to give leadership in expressing revulsion at what happened in Woolwich last Wednesday.
I believe that the people of Northern Ireland are looking for opportunities to express sympathy to the family, support for the armed services and solidarity against terrorism. So, my party has called on our 26 local councils to open books of condolences. We would also like to see on the day of the funeral, gathering places where people can go for a minute's silence in respect for Lee Rigby and for our armed services. I know that some people are already placing flowers at war memorials, and I applaud them for so doing. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, and, on an occasion like this, it is important that the people of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland gather in solidarity to say no to terrorism.
Newry & Armagh MLA Mr Kennedy said:
The entire nation has been shocked and stunned by the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, which took place in broad daylight on a street in Woolwich in our nation's capital last week. The barbaric nature of the murder has shocked everyone. The Prime Minister and the Government must address very serious issues in dealing with the incident and terrorism of this nature. As has been said, we in Northern Ireland are all too aware of threats and dangers because of events through the years, so we can identify with the great sense of loss and devastation that is being felt by the family, friends and colleagues of Drummer Lee Rigby.
I had the opportunity to visit the scene of the ghastly murder and pay my respects to Lee. It was clear to me that, far from the nation being divided on the issue, the murderers have actually united us. Tributes were being left at the scene by people of all faiths and backgrounds. The scale of the tributes reflects not only the nation's horror at the crime but the huge admiration that people have for the young men and women who serve in our armed forces.
We would do well to remember that barbarism does not exist in the past. At all times, it remains underneath us and is capable of welling up and overwhelming our society at any given time. Clearly, it was barbarism that spilled onto the streets of our nation's capital last week and took the life of Drummer Rigby. We must all work to ensure that such events are never repeated. In the meantime, we must give our help and support and offer our prayers to the family, friends and colleagues of Drummer Lee Rigby.”