Irish Republican News · April 23, 2016
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Tensions high after north Belfast killing


A north Belfast priest has warned the PSNI police against making “arrests for the sake of arrests” after the death of a local man following a punishment shooting.

Taxi driver Michael McGibbon died after he was shot three times in the lower leg last weekend. The pre-arranged ‘shooting by appointment’, normally intended to deliver an injury a punishment attack, proved tragically fatal.

The attack has been linked to the breakaway ‘New IRA’, and has been strongly condemned across the political spectrum.

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly said those involved had deliberately sought to kill Mr McGibbon, and he linked it to a previous vigilante shooting in the area.

“This is the second such killing carried out in this area in the last six months by an armed gang which is clearly at war with the local community. I am calling on anyone with information on both of these killings to bring it forward to the PSNI. There can be no place for such actions in our society,” he said.

“Those who carried out this terrible act do not represent the local community in north Belfast. They need to realise that they have no support and get off the backs of the community. The community demands that they call a halt to these actions immediately.”

The PSNI have said they are looking for two men in their late teens or early 20s in connection with the attack. However, the only arrest so far has been that of 34-year-old prominent local republican Dee Fennell, who was detained on Sunday before being released unconditionally the following day. Mr Fennell is already on bail in connection with a charges of ‘incitement’ following a speech he delivered at an Easter commemoration last year, and is barred from making political statements.

Fr Gary Donegan, rector at Holy Cross, warned the PSNI about increasing tensions amid increased political policing in the ara.

“The one thing that we don’t need is the rounding up of the usual suspects. All that does is raise tensions in the area,” he said.

“In the last year we have seen arrests where you could have named the people beforehand, and all it does is add to statistics which are unnecessary in terms of stop and search.”

The PSNI may also have difficult questions to answer after it was reported that they had been in contact with Mr McGibbon before his punishment attack. The Police Ombudsman’s office has said it is carrying out an investigation into the matter.

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© 2016 Irish Republican News