Man shot dead in Belfast social club named as Sean Fox (49)

Murder investigation underway as MP describes attack in packed bar as ‘totally barbaric’

The man shot dead in a west Belfast social club on Sunday afternoon has been named as Sean Fox.

The 49-year-old was killed in front of a packed bar as people watched a football match in the Donegal Celtic Footfall Club on the Suffolk Road around 2.25pm.

MP for the area, Paul Maskey, described the killing as “totally barbaric”.

Police have begun a murder investigation.


Detective Chief Inspector Millar said two gunmen had entered the Donegal Celtic Sports and Social Club and shot him a number of times as he sat enjoying a drink.

“This was a reckless act and there can be no justification for it whatsoever. This was carried out in a crowded function room where people were watching football at the time and it is only by pure good fortune other patrons were not injured or killed as a result of this disgraceful attack,” he said.

“The gunmen walked into the premises past several people before firing their weapons” at the victim a number of times. Both were masked and police believe they made their escape on foot along Suffolk Road.

The detective urged anyone with information, or who may have footage of the incident, to contact police.

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.”

Mr Maskey said on Monday that the local community was in “total shock this morning”.

“This was a very, very busy clubroom yesterday where people were watching a football match on TV. It looks like two men have walked in and murdered Sean Fox in front of many people,” he told the BBC.

“My thoughts and sympathies are with Sean Fox’s family at this stage.

“It is totally barbaric what people witnessed yesterday and I’m sure it is going to take a long time for them to get over it. It will take a very long time for the family to get over it, if they ever do.”

The attack was also condemned by other politicians.

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.”

People Before Profit councillor Matt Collins called the shooting “a horrific and appalling act of violence”.

“My thoughts are with the victim’s family and anyone impacted by this barbaric act,” he told the BBC.

“There’s absolutely no place for guns or violence in our communities.” - Additional reporting PA.

Seanín Graham

Seanín Graham

Seanín Graham is Northern Correspondent of The Irish Times