Dissidents blamed for Belfast and Derry killings
Men shot dead by new organisation calling itself ‘the IRA’
Police at the scene in Alexander Park, north Belfast, where the body of father-of-four Kevin Kearney (inset) was found. Photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire
PSNI forensic officers in Shipquay Street, Derry yesterday where a man was shot dead in an apartment in the city centre. Photograph: Stephen Davison
Dissident republicans are being blamed for murders in Derry and Belfast which the PSNI have described as brutal, callous and cold-blooded.
A relatively new republican paramilitary grouping calling itself “the IRA” admitted shooting father-of-four Kevin Kearney (46) in north Belfast on Tuesday while local politicians were in no doubt that dissidents were responsible for the murder of Barry McCrory in Derry yesterday morning.
Mr McCrory (35), who was shot dead by a lone gunman in a flat in Shipquay Street, Derry city centre yesterday morning, was known to police for drugs activity.
PSNI Detective Chief Inspector Ian Harrison said the killing was a “brutal execution” of an individual. “No person has a right to be judge, jury and executioner.”
SDLP Assembly member Pat Ramsey was in the area when the shooting happened. “There is no doubt whatsoever that dissidents were involved. Once again there are those in our community who are intent on destroying the unity of purpose that can only benefit everyone, especially our young people,” he said.
He said numerous tourists in Derry for events as part of the UK City of Culture were in the area where the shooting happened. Mr Ramsey added that he also saw what he understood to be the murdered man’s partner being taken away by ambulance “in a terrible state of distress”.
“His father and mother and brother also came to the scene and could not be allowed see the body by the police. It was very emotional, very distressing,” he said.
The killings happened as a major international investment event takes place in Northern Ireland. It opened with a dinner in Hillsborough Castle last night to be followed by a conference in Belfast today, which the British prime minister David Cameron is attending.
The dissident grouping that killed Mr McCrory may be the same organisation responsible for the murder of Mr Kearney in north Belfast. He went missing when he brought his dogs for a walk on Tuesday after leaving one of his children to school. His body was found on Wednesday in a lake in Alexandra Park in north Belfast.
Detective Chief Insp Justyn Galloway said, “Kevin was known to us for previous offending, but what I want to make clear is regardless of Kevin’s lifestyle, regardless of his previous offending, there is no justification whatsoever for someone to shoot him dead as they did.”
An organisation called “the IRA” that was formed in July of last year said in a statement to the Irish News that it killed Mr Kearney “in response to complaints within our community”.
Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said those responsible for the killings “were not republican, they were not representative and they were entirely criminal in their motivation”.
Condemning the killings the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said, “The people who claim responsibility for this have no mandate and their actions lead nowhere. The people of Belfast and Derry, and indeed people all over Ireland, have moved on. There is no justification for such crimes against the community.”
The Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers said the killings were “abhorrent and brutal”.