Five held over Real IRA murder

Peter Butterly was shot dead in the car park of the Huntsman Inn in Gormanston, Co Meath yesterday. Image: Google Maps

Peter Butterly was shot dead in the car park of the Huntsman Inn in Gormanston, Co Meath yesterday. Image: Google Maps

Thu, Mar 7, 2013, 00:00

Gardai will question five men this morning held in connection with the fatal shooting of a member of the Real IRA in a pub car park in Co Meath yesterday.

Peter Butterly (35), a father of three from Cortown, Togher, Dunleer, Co Louth, was shot dead in the car park of the Huntsman Inn in Gormanston at about 2.30pm while under surveillance by armed gardai.

Traffic diversions are still in place in the vicinity of the pub this morning, and gardai are advising motorists to avoid the area.

A postmortem is due to take place today at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.

Mr Butterly was due to stand trial next Wednesday on charges of membership of an illegal organisation, namely the Real IRA. He was free on bail.

He had gone to the car park for a meeting with others from the Real IRA, of which he was a regional commander.

However, the Real IRA has been feuding internally since the shooting dead of key figure Alan Ryan last September. Yesterday the group of men turned on Mr Butterly as part of that feud and shot him as he sat in his car in the pub car park. He staggered from the vehicle, then collapsed and died.

Members of the Emergency Response Unit were in the immediate vicinity, keeping Mr Butterly under surveillance because his life had been threatened, and also to gather information on whom he was meeting.

After he was shot, four suspects in their 20s fled in a car but were stopped by gardai at the Balscadden Road not far from the pub. A fifth man, in his 40s, was arrested nearby. A handgun was recovered.

Paramilitary funeral

The suspects are from Coolock and parts of north Co Dublin. They knew Alan Ryan and some were among a group arrested in relation to the show of paramilitary strength at his funeral in Donaghmede, north Dublin, last September.

Mr Butterly?s remains were yesterday examined at the scene by Deputy State Pathologist Dr Khalid Jabbar.

Mr Butterly had been before the Special Criminal Court last March charged with Real IRA membership arising from his suspected transportation of bomb components in 2010.

The warrant used to gather evidence against him was ruled unconstitutional and charges were not pursued. He was due to stand trial next Wednesday on a new charge of membership of an illegal organisation.