IRA blamed for attack on dissident’s son

The mother of murdered Real IRA chief Joe O’Connor has blamed the mainstream Provisional IRA for shooting another son.

Twenty-four-year-old Freddy O’Connor was abducted by a gang of four men as he left the Whiterock Leisure Centre in west Belfast, where he had been playing five-a-side football, on Tuesday night.

Margaret O’Connor said her son’s attackers had said: “You play ball with us and we’ll play ball with you”, before bundling him into a car.

He was driven a short distance to New Barnsley Grove where minutes later he was shot in both ankles.

“Two fellas jumped him and started beating him,” Mrs O’Connor said.

“Another two pulled his top over his head and put him in a car.

“It all happened so fast.”

Mrs O’Connor, whose son Joe was murdered outside her Ballymurphy home in October 2000, said her family had no doubt that the Provisional IRA was responsible.

“It was definitely the Provos,” she said. “We are racking our brains to understand why this happened.”

The Provisional IRA was also blamed for Joe O’Connor’s murder, a claim it denies.

Mrs O’Connor said her son was “no bother to anyone and is a good child”.

“He is blind in one eye, epileptic and is having tests for heart problems,” she said.

“He only plays football to try and take his mind of things.”

Mr O’Connor was due to have his injuries operated on at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast last night.

“They reckon it could take six weeks for one of his legs to heal and three months for the other,” his mother said.

“This whole thing is just more intimidation to try and get us out of the area.

“I’m not leaving here for anybody. Why should I? I’ve lived in Ballymurphy all my life and I’m not going now.

“People round here know Freddy and know he’s never been in trouble. They are just as shocked as me.”

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