Anger over Derry killing

The INLA have denied any involvement in the murder of 22 year-old Derry man Emmett Sheils, who was shot dead in Derry on Tuesday morning.

A caller using a recognised codeword told a local newsroom that the organisation was not responsible for the fatal shooting.

Reports indicated that Sheils died when he was struck by a bullet during a confrontation between local youths and an armed gang in the Creggan area of the city. It is understood that Sheils was intervening in the dispute when the shot was fired.

The PSNI police has said the local INLA are suspected in the death, but this has been denied by the armed group.

“Firstly we would like to send our condolences and sympathies to the family, from the Derry Brigade of the INLA. We were not involved in Emmett’s death in any way, shape or form.

“The INLA had absolutely nothing to do with the shooting. We were saddened by the death of young Emmett and want to dispel any rumours of INLA involvement which have circulated.

“We would be happy to meet with the family to discuss any matters they want,” the INLA spokesperson said.

Parish priest Father Stephen McLaughlin, who was called to the scene by police at around 3.30am, said the whole community would be shocked by what had happened.

He said: “This is quite brutal, quite horrific. When I heard the news I just felt sick -- you are being taken back to a place you thought you had left behind.

“It is going to be a nightmare for this young man’s immediate family and the local community will be shocked.”

Sinn Féin Assembly member Martina Anderson said there was uproar in the community.

“The family are absolutely gutted, the community is in uproar about this,” she said.

As in Belfast, crime has increased in republican areas of the city in recent years, and there have been accusations that the PSNI has taken a hands-off attitude to the situation.

It was two hours before the PSNI attended the scene, prompting strong criticism by local nationalists. The PSNI was later forced to deny that had given over control of Creggan to gunmen.

Sinn Féin assembly member Raymond McCartney said the delay in attending the murder scene would be raised with PSNI chief Hugh Orde.

“This was a very serious incident and we will be asking questions at DPP level and of the chief constable at the Policing Board,” he said.

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© 2008 Irish Republican News