McGuinness backs PSNI call for help

Sat, Nov 3, 2012, 00:00

THE SINN Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has strongly endorsed a PSNI call for public support in tracking down the suspected dissident republican killers of prison officer David Black.

Mr McGuinness described the dissidents who gunned down 52-year-old Mr Black as he was driving to work near Lurgan on Thursday morning as a “ragbag of people” who were “swimming in a sea of criminality and drugs, dressing it up on occasion with a flag of political convenience”.

His comments, made some hours after two men were arrested in connection with the murder, reinforced the appeal from the PSNI senior investigating officer Det Supt Keith Agnew for public assistance in apprehending Mr Black’s killers.

A third man was arrested in Co Leitrim by gardaí yesterday evening in connection with the murder. He was being questioned by detectives in Carrick-on-Shannon last night.

Meanwhile the Crimestoppers charity has offered a reward of up to £10,000 for information that would assist in convicting the killers.

Supt Agnew, in welcoming the expressions of support and condemnation added, “But condemnation, however strident, is not enough. My team of detectives need condemnation to be translated into information if our investigation is to make maximum progress.”

One of the men questioned yesterday at Antrim police station is prominent Lurgan republican Colin Duffy, who earlier this year was acquitted of a charge of murdering British soldiers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey in Antrim in 2009.

At the time of writing no organisation has admitted killing Mr Black but the main suspicion is falling on a new amalgamation of dissidents comprising the Real IRA, Republican Action Against Drugs and unaffiliated republicans, some of whom are from the wider mid-Ulster area.

Mr Black’s wife Yvonne, son Kyle and daughter Kyra, from Cookstown, Co Tyrone, said there must be no retaliation for the murder. Books of condolence were opened yesterday in Cookstown.

After a meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council in Armagh yesterday the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, First Minister Peter Robinson and Mr McGuinness standing alongside each other offered their sympathy to the Black family and condemned the murder.

Mr Kenny said dissidents were “inextricably interlinked with criminality, extortion and drug dealing which has led to deaths on the streets of Dublin”, while Mr Gilmore said their threat was “not confined to north of the Border”.

Mr Robinson said there was a “galvanising of elected public opinion on the island” of Ireland against the dissidents who were “evil and immoral”.

Every “scrap of information” should be given to the PSNI and Garda, Mr McGuinness said.