The football club where a senior police officer was coaching young kids at the time he was shot earlier this week joined a rally today to condemn the violence.

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Omagh to ‘fight for a better future’ and stand in solidarity with Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell, who remains in a critical condition after the attack on Wednesday night.

The high profile police officer, who has led a number of major investigations, cried ‘I’ve been shot, I’ve been shot’ before collapsing on a running track 30 yards from where he was attacked, as children ran in terror to get to safety.

Mr Caldwell, 48, was hit four times as he loaded footballs into his car, while his son, 12, ‘came within a hair’s breadth of being shot’

On Saturday, the main street of Omagh was brought to a standstill by the protesters, who chanted and held posters which read: ‘No going back.’

Earlier, hundreds gathered in Beragh, about eight miles from Omagh, for a walk of solidarity from the Beragh Swifts ground for Mr Caldwell

Earlier, hundreds gathered in Beragh, about eight miles from Omagh, for a walk of solidarity from the Beragh Swifts ground for Mr Caldwell

A fifth suspect has been arrested amid an ongoing investigation into Wednesday's attack on Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell (pictured) at a sports centre in Omagh. He remains in a critical condition in hospital and is heavily sedated

A fifth suspect has been arrested amid an ongoing investigation into Wednesday’s attack on Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell (pictured) at a sports centre in Omagh. He remains in a critical condition in hospital and is heavily sedated

Among them were children and families from the Beragh Swifts, who marched in a ‘walk of solidarity’ for Mr Caldwell.

Initial reports said several children from the club were in the area at the time of the shooting and fled for cover.  

Beragh Swifts chairman Richard Lyons said the community gathered in support of their friend and for all the children affected by the shooting. 

‘It’s been a very difficult time for the club; it’s been a very difficult time for the community,’ he said. 

‘John worked tirelessly for this club. He’s no different to any other volunteer… the contribution that John gives to this club is phenomenal and this is an unbelievably difficult time for us all.’

Club members and supporters taking part in a 'Walk of Solidarity' from Beragh Swifts clubhouse in Beragh, Omagh

Club members and supporters taking part in a ‘Walk of Solidarity’ from Beragh Swifts clubhouse in Beragh, Omagh

Protesters took to the streets of Omagh to 'fight for a better future' and stand in solidarity with Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell , who remains in a critical condition after the attack on Wednesday night

Protesters took to the streets of Omagh to ‘fight for a better future’ and stand in solidarity with Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell , who remains in a critical condition after the attack on Wednesday night

Among them were children and families from the Beragh Swifts, who marched in a 'walk of solidarity' for Mr Caldwell

Among them were children and families from the Beragh Swifts, who marched in a ‘walk of solidarity’ for Mr Caldwell

The slogan refers to the history of violence and terror in Northern Ireland. The rally was organised by trade unions. 

Anton McCabe, secretary of Omagh Trade Union Council, said they were mindful a man remains critically ill, and children traumatised by the incident, and wanted to have a rally that was as respectful as possible. 

‘We are here today to say no going back – no going back to violence, fear and injustices,’ he told those gathered. 

Patricia McKeown of Unison said peace in Northern Ireland was only born when ‘a massacre was perpetrated on the men, women and children of Omagh’. 

The protest took place a short distance from where a 1998 dissident republican bomb killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins. 

‘Twenty-five years later, the attempt has been made again and your spirit and resolve is not broken,’ Ms McKeown said. 

Beragh Swifts chairman Richard Lyons said the community gathered in support of their friend and for all the children affected by the shooting

Beragh Swifts chairman Richard Lyons said the community gathered in support of their friend and for all the children affected by the shooting

Hundreds of people today gathered to demand an end to the violence in Northern Ireland after a senior police officer was shot in front of his son while coaching a junior football team

Hundreds of people today gathered to demand an end to the violence in Northern Ireland after a senior police officer was shot in front of his son while coaching a junior football team

Omagh has seen significant dissident violence in the past, including a Real IRA bomb attack in 1998 which killed 29 people - one of whom was a woman pregnant with twins. It was also where Constable Ronan Kerr was murdered in April 2011

Omagh has seen significant dissident violence in the past, including a Real IRA bomb attack in 1998 which killed 29 people – one of whom was a woman pregnant with twins. It was also where Constable Ronan Kerr was murdered in April 2011

On Saturday, the main street of Omagh was brought to a standstill by the protesters, who chanted and held posters which read: 'No going back.'

On Saturday, the main street of Omagh was brought to a standstill by the protesters, who chanted and held posters which read: ‘No going back.’

Youths from the Beragh Swifts football club lead a walk of solidarity in support of Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell

Youths from the Beragh Swifts football club lead a walk of solidarity in support of Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell

‘The factions who rejected our peace agreement will not change the resolve of the people.’ 

Padraig Mulholland of Nipsa said there are two Omaghs. 

‘There is the Omagh where this attack took place, but there is the positive Omagh; there is the Omagh that wants positive change and that was best represented by health and education workers who held another protest here earlier this week. They were here for young people, for working people, trying to fight for a better future,’ he said. 

‘No going back, let’s fight for a better future for all.’ 

Mr McCabe made the final address, saying: ‘A clear message has gone out today: no going back. 

‘Those who shot John Caldwell on Wednesday were in serious danger of lighting a fire that could burn us all, and let us be clear, the people of Omagh today have said no – no going back. 

‘We are standing not just in horror at what was done to John Caldwell, but standing here saying, ‘Let us build a better society, of justice, peace and equality’.’ 

A minute’s silence was observed. 

Beragh Swifts chairman Richard Lyons said the community gathered in support of their friend and for all the children affected by the shooting

Beragh Swifts chairman Richard Lyons said the community gathered in support of their friend and for all the children affected by the shooting

The investigation into the shooting remains ongoing, but it is being treated as a terror-related offence

The investigation into the shooting remains ongoing, but it is being treated as a terror-related offence

Police found a small burnt-out car in nearby Racolpa Road, Omagh, shortly after the shooting

Police found a small burnt-out car in nearby Racolpa Road, Omagh, shortly after the shooting

The shooting of off-duty police officer DCI John Caldwell is being treated as terror-related, and locals say they will not put up with a return of the violence

The shooting of off-duty police officer DCI John Caldwell is being treated as terror-related, and locals say they will not put up with a return of the violence

They held signs which read: 'No going back', referring to past atrocities

They held signs which read: ‘No going back’, referring to past atrocities

Speaking after the event, Mr McCabe hailed those who attended the rally, describing it as a strong message from the people of Northern Ireland that they do not want to return to violence.

Six men have been arrested under the Terrorism Act in connection with the attempted murder investigation.

On Saturday afternoon, police said they had been granted more time to question four of the men.

A PSNI spokesperson said a court in Belfast had granted an extension to the detention of four male suspects, aged 22, 38, 45 and 47, until 10pm on Tuesday February 28.

On Saturday, the main street of Omagh was brought to a standstill by the protesters, who chanted and held posters which read: 'No going back'

On Saturday, the main street of Omagh was brought to a standstill by the protesters, who chanted and held posters which read: ‘No going back’

On Thursday, Mr Byrne said the PSNI as an organisation was 'utterly shocked and angered by [the] brazen and calculated attack'

On Thursday, Mr Byrne said the PSNI as an organisation was ‘utterly shocked and angered by [the] brazen and calculated attack’

On Saturday, the main street of Omagh was brought to a standstill by the protesters, who chanted and held posters which read: 'No going back'

On Saturday, the main street of Omagh was brought to a standstill by the protesters, who chanted and held posters which read: ‘No going back’

A fifth man, aged 43, who was arrested on Friday, also remains in custody.

Police revealed on Saturday evening they’d also arrested a 71-year-old pensioner as part of the investigation. 

Dissident republican group the New IRA is their primary line of inquiry. 

They have asked for any witnesses or those with information to contact detectives by calling 101 or online.

Irish police are working closely in co-operation with their counterparts in the PSNI and have intensified patrols

Irish police are working closely in co-operation with their counterparts in the PSNI and have intensified patrols

The investigation remains ongoing and police are appealing for witnesses to come forward

The investigation remains ongoing and police are appealing for witnesses to come forward

DailyMail

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