By Anne Cadwallader
BELFAST — The RUC officer critically injured by a loyalist blast bomb in Portadown has died after fighting for his life for a month on a life-support machine.
The RUC officer was blinded in one eye and sustained serious head injuries on Sept. 5 during loyalist rioting after a march in support of the Orange Order.
The dead man was Frank O’Reilly, a Catholic father of three young children, aged 10, 3 1/2 and 15 weeks.
He lived at Waringtown, Co. Armagh and was stationed at Loughgall. He was married to a Protestant woman who is believed to be a second cousin of the County Armagh grand chaplain, William Bingham.
Rev. Bingham called on the Orange Order to halt its protests after the deaths of the three Quinn boys at Ballymoney, saying no march was worth a single human life.
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O’Reilly was injured in rioting after a legal loyalist parade in Portadown. The same afternoon, a Catholic business in Portadown was firebombed. Two days previously, two other Catholic businesses had been blast-bombed and gutted. The riots took place during weekly protests by loyalists in support of Orangemen in Portadown.
After news of the RUC man’s death, Brid Rodgers of the SDLP called on the Orange Order to halt its weekly protests. This Saturday a loyalist women’s parade is due to march past the Catholic chapel attended by most people in the Garvaghy Road area.
Rodgers called on the women to cancel their march as a gesture of respect to the dead man’s family and take the difficult step of entering into dialogue with people with whom they disagree.