Three brave men have lost their lives in Northern Ireland and our deepest sympathies must be with the friends and families of Patrick Azimkar, Mark Quinsey and Stephen Carroll.
Sappers Azimkar and Quinsey were only hours from travelling to Afghanistan to help bring peace to that country and give aid to the Afghan people.
Stephen Carroll was an experienced police officer, just about to complete twenty-one years of dedicated service; our thoughts are with his wife and family.
I try to visit Northern Ireland every week but today was the most moving visit since I became Shadow Secretary of State in July 2007. I had briefings from the Chief Constable, Sir Hugh Orde and Brigadier George Norton, Commander of the 38 (Irish) Brigade. I also visited Massereene Barracks and the site of the murder at Craigavon.
The ruthless murderers who committed these crimes must be brought to justice. They are violent criminals who are not representative of their communities and have no popular support. All political parties have rightly called for these killers to be caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law; local people must work with the police and politicians to help achieve this.
The key to defeating terrorism in Northern Ireland lies with the community and anyone with information on these criminal acts must come forward.
I have been struck how representatives from all parts of the community have united across the political divide to condemn these brutal acts. An unrepresentative minority of dissidents are determined to undo the good work of the past fifteen years.
It is incumbent on us all to respond to these shocking murders by going about our business normally but with increased vigilance; there should be no sudden or precipitate changes in policy.
The good work of recent years must continue. The actions of a small number of violent criminals must not be allowed to provoke anyone to undo the progress that has been made.