Man shot dead in busy bar at west Belfast social club

Murder investigation begins after two masked men enter Donegal Celtic Football Club and shoot victim number of times

The man shot dead in west Belfast on Sunday was killed in front of a packed bar as people watched a football match, the MP for the area has said.

The shooting happened in the social club of Donegal Celtic Football Club in Suffolk Road on Sunday afternoon.

Paul Maskey said his understanding was “a number of people came in and shot an individual a number of times.” The police have begun a murder investigation.

Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell said on Sunday evening that “police received a report that two masked men had entered the Donegal Celtic Sports and Social Club shortly before 2.30pm and shot the man a number of times.


“He was pronounced dead at the scene.

“Both gunmen are believed to have made their escape on foot along Suffolk Road.”

He said the investigation was at a very early stage but urged “anyone with information or anyone who was in the Suffolk Road area at the time the shooting took place and saw two men running from the club, or who may have captured dashcam footage, to contact us.”

There was a heavy police presence at the scene in the aftermath of the attack on Sunday. Two ambulances were parked in the grounds while a PSNI helicopter hovered above.

A significant number of officers were in attendance, with the area cordoned off.

The Sinn Féin MP was at the scene on Sunday afternoon and spoke to a number of those who were in the bar when the attack took place.

“My thoughts first and foremost are with the victim’s family, but also with all those who witnessed this today in a packed bar,” Mr Maskey told The Irish Times.

“These were people going out to enjoy their Sunday afternoon who witnessed a murder.

“People are just totally shocked this has happened in our local bar here in west Belfast

“Nobody wants to see guns on our streets, nobody wants to see anybody being killed in this fashion, it’s absolutely wrong, and everybody I’ve spoken to today has said there’s no place for this in our society.”

The attack was also condemned by other politicians on Sunday.

Alliance Assembly member (MLA) Nuala McAllister said it was a “sickening attack” which had “left the entire city shocked, particularly as it took place in the middle of the afternoon in public.

“Guns have no place in our society and the culprits need to be taken off our streets immediately.

“I appeal to anyone with information on this incident to take it to police right away,” she said.

The SDLP councillor Brian Heading also described a sense of shock in the community and said his thoughts were “with the family and friends of the deceased who will have been left devastated in the wake of this senseless attack and the loss of their loved one.

“This incident has cast a dark cloud over the entire area, people in this community want to be able to live their lives in peace and this shooting in broad daylight in a busy establishment must be condemned in the strongest possible terms by all,” he said.

“People are rightly concerned at the presence of gunmen on our streets and I would urge anyone who knows anything about this shooting to come forward to police as soon as possible.”

Part of Suffolk Road remained closed on Sunday afternoon with a number of diversions in place. — Additional reporting PA

Freya McClements

Freya McClements

Freya McClements is Northern Editor of The Irish Times

Brian Hutton

Brian Hutton is a freelance journalist and Irish Times contributor