Loyalist mob kicks RUC officer to death

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Constable Gregory Taylor, an off-duty police officer, was kicked to death in the early hours of yesterday by a loyalist mob following an earlier argument in a County Antrim bar.

The dispute apparently arose from loyalist anger that the Royal Ulster Constabulary recently stopped a loyalist parade through a nearby Catholic district.

The death of the policeman sent shockwaves through both the RUC, which at the weekend celebrated its 75th anniversary, and the community in general. Constable Taylor, a well-known local man, was said to have been on duty recently when police prevented loyalists from marching through the Catholic town of Dunloy.

Angry words were apparently exchanged in a local bar, and early yesterday he was set upon outside the bar and kicked to death.

James Murray, the owner of Kelly's Bar where the incident started, said: "We all knew the policeman very well. I've known him very well for 20 years. I couldn't believe it had happened in my bar. There are not many that could kick a dog to death, never mind a man."

Les Rodgers, chairman of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, said: "I think this was a gang of cowardly people who set about a person out enjoying a drink while he was off-duty. He was savagely cut down and beaten to death."

According to one report some of the constable's attackers jumped up and down on his head at one stage. The police officer lived two miles outside the town of Ballymoney, where the attack took place.

Described by neighbours as a caring family man he had three children, one of them a 10-year-old with cerebral palsy. Locals said his family were "in a terrible state".

Controversies over marches have dragged on in the area ever since last year, with loyalists maintaining an almost weekly picket of Catholic mass- goers in the nearby town of Ballymena. This has strained relations between police and the more extreme loyalist elements, leading several weeks ago to a number of petrol-bomb attacks on police homes.