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‘Tragic reminder of violent past conflict’

By Jilly Beattie, Chris Sherrard
Mirror
18 April 2014
**Video onsite

Dad-of-four gunned down on Springfield Road around 5pm after threats from former republican colleagues

Ex Continuity IRA chief Tommy Crossan was blasted to death in broad daylight on Friday evening.

The dad-of-four was shot seven times including once in the head by a gang who strong-armed him into a fuel depot in West Belfast.

Sources understand that prominent dissident republican Crossan was executed after he was accused by former colleagues of being a British agent and touting to the PSNI and MI5 about high-profile dissident republicans.

A gang of three men in a red BMW car are believed to have carried out the killing. It was found burnt-out two streets away minutes after the shooting.

The incident happened shortly before his daughter, Joanie, drove into the area to fill her car with diesel.

One local resident said: “It is terrible for his wife and children but other than that there’s little sympathy for Tommy Crossan on this street.

“You reap what you sow and he has been part of a wrecking ball in our community and now he is gone.

“He was warned.”

A heavy police presence filtered into the Springfield Road area at 5.15pm after the shooting.

Officers in a dozen police vehicles including members of the Tactical Support Group were at the scene and were on high alert. They helped escorted a cross-community group visiting the area moments after the shooting to safety.

As the PSNI helicopter maintained a presence overhead a large group of family and friends, many of them weeping, gathered outside the building where Crossan had met his bloody end.

Dozens of local children clambered around police vehicles demanding to know where the dead body was.

Fr Tony Devlin, the parish priest of St Paul’s Catholic Church on the Falls Road, gave the last rites.

The Lord Mayor of Belfast condemned the murder:

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir @newbelfast: Shame on those who bring death to Belfast streets at Eastertide. They represent no-one but themselves and have no place in our great city.

Crossan had been defying a death threat by rival dissident republicans since 2011.

He received the threat from former comrades when masked gunmen accused him of being a British agent and ordered him to leave. They threatened: “Get out of Ireland or be killed.”

But Crossan told a Belfast newspaper: “I’m going nowhere. My conscience is clear. I’m no tout and never would be. It goes against everything I believe.

“I haven’t stolen Continuity IRA money and I haven’t been involved in robberies. These liars are trying to criminalise me and drive me from my home. But I’m here to stay.”

Speaking from the scene SDLP Councillor Colin Keenan, who lives nearby this afternoon’s incident, said: “I condemn this murder completely and in doing so I reflect the view of all of the community.

“There is a real sense of shock that this has happened.

“I was on the scene shortly after this tragic event and I extend my heartfelt sympathy to the victim’s family.

“We have long hoped that the shadow of death had been lifted from West Belfast.

“Today’s event is a terrible, tragic reminder of the violent conflict of the past.”

Forensic experts were quickly on the scene of the murder.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard
Press Association
18 April 2014

Dissident republican suspects in the killing of one of their former commanders in Belfast are “dinosaurs trapped in the past”, the city’s Lord Mayor said.

Ex-Continuity IRA (CIRA) figure Tommy Crossan, 43, was shot dead at a fuel depot in the grounds of an industrial complex in full view of surrounding houses. Three gunmen may have carried out the killing and a red BMW car was found on fire nearby.

A priest attended to pray over the bloodied victim in West Belfast, an area long known as a republican heartland but which has been relatively peaceful in recent years following the end of the IRA campaign in 1998.

Relatives gathered in tears at the scene, their devastation visible to onlookers.

First citizen Mairtin O Muilleoir of Sinn Fein said the killers existed in the dark margins of society but could not slow the pace of change in Belfast.

He claimed: “They are dinosaurs trapped in the past and I urge everyone to work with the police to remove them from our streets.”

Crossan was once the CIRA’s Belfast leader but was believed to be the subject of a death threat and had been expelled from the group some years ago after a fall out.

He served time in prison for conspiracy to murder Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers following a gun attack on a police station in West Belfast in 1998.

The CIRA has opposed the peace process which largely ended three decades of violence and transformed Northern Ireland. Crossan was killed on the 16th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement which mandated political power-sharing at Stormont.

CIRA gunmen murdered Police Constable Stephen Carroll in Lurgan in Co Armagh in March 2009 but the organisation has since been riven with splits, security sources have suggested.

Friday afternoon’s attack happened at the Peter Pan Centre in Springfield Road, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said. Detectives have launched a murder investigation and are combing the scene for forensics clues.

Mr O’Muilleoir told BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight: “There are some micro groups of criminals masquerading under an assortment of republican labels. They have no support within the community.

“I wouldn’t under any guise brand them ‘professional’ but they certainly are killers… They have nothing to offer to the people of Belfast.”

He said t here was a whole assortment of factions, and fractions of factions, of dissident republicanism and added every week produced another schism.

“Sadly they clearly have access to guns and they have murderous intent and they are willing to kill those with whom they disagree.”

The largely-nationalist area of Belfast where the shooting happened is mainly comprised of tightly-packed terraced housing estates and businesses.

Nationalist SDLP councillor Colin Keenan said it was a horrific scene.

“We have long hoped that the shadow of death had been lifted from West Belfast.

“Today’s event is a terrible, tragic reminder of the violent conflict of the past.”

The Springfield Road, one of the main arterial routes, was closed to traffic.

A PSNI spokeswoman said: “Detectives from Serious Crime Branch have launched a murder investigation after a man was shot dead in the Springfield Road area of West Belfast.”

Members of the security forces have been on high alert for attacks by various extremist factions who have also killed two soldiers and a prison officer.

In recent weeks they have stepped up efforts to kill police officers, with several attacks on the force in West Belfast.

After the murder of prison officer David Black on the M1 motorway in November 2012, police mounted an unprecedented surveillance operation against various factions as well making significant arrests.

Sinn Fein Stormont Assembly Member Jennifer McCann said t hose behind Crossan’s killing had no consideration for anyone in the community except themselves and their own criminal agenda.

She added: “They have shot a man dead and endangered anyone in the immediate vicinity.

“There is now a family in mourning and a community traumatised by this shooting.

“It will not go unnoticed that, with sadness, at Easter time as republicans gather to commemorate their patriot dead, that there are criminals on the streets masquerading as republicans for their own ends.

“This community does not want them. They need to listen to this community, stop these senseless actions and go away.”

David Ford, Northern Ireland’s justice minister, said the murder should be condemned by all.

:::u.tv:::
Sunday, 09 December 2012

The mural to Pat Finucane was unveiled in west Belfast on Sunday.

The family of Pat Finucane has gathered at a new mural in memory of the murdered solicitor, days before a report into his death is published.

Mr Finucane was shot dead by loyalist gunmen who forced their way into his north Belfast home in February 1989.

A report into the death of the Catholic father of three, conducted by Sir Desmond de Silva, will be published on Wednesday. On the same day Prime Minister David Cameron will make a statement to the House of Commons.

On Sunday, a mural was unveiled on Beechmount Avenue in west Belfast, close to where the 38-year-old grew up.

His widow Geraldine told UTV the Finucane family is still calling for a full independent public inquiry into the murder.

“We’ve not participated in this review. We don’t know anything that went on. We don’t know who he has spoken to. We don’t know what he’s seen – and we won’t know,” she said.

“I do know that there will be no recommendations made in this report.”

Mrs Finucane said Sir de Silva told her that his report would contain “hard-hitting conclusions”.

“But we do know that he was shown sensitive material and he agreed not to put it in the report. That doesn’t inspire us with confidence,” she added.

She welcomed the new mural which she said was painted in “part of Pat’s community”.

“It’s very important that he’s recognised in his own community by the people. I’m delighted with the mural. It’s lovely,” she commented.

“We do feel that this report will only further our calls for the public inquiry rather than diminish them.”

John Finucane

Mr Finucane’s youngest son, John, said the unveiling of the mural had come at a very appropriate time for his family. He added they will read the de Silva report “with an open mind”.

The Finucanes will travel to London this week to view the results of Sir de Silva’s inquiry, which cost £1.5m.

It was ordered by Prime Minister David Cameron, who has admitted collusion took place and apologised to Mr Finucane’s family.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was also at the event to show the Finucane family his support.

Mr Adams said the community in west Belfast knows what happened to Mr Finucane.

“This community knows that collusion was an administrative practice,” he commented.

“The family’s demand is very, very reasonable and I would call again on David Cameron and on the Irish government to use its influence on David Cameron to make sure that – regardless of the outcome of this DeSilva review -the family have the fully independent inquiry that they are looking for,” said Mr Adams.

:::u.tv:::
13 May 2012

**Video onsite

Forty years after a car bomb exploded outside Kelly’s Bar in west Belfast, the families of those killed are calling for a fresh investigation into the attack.

The no-warning device went off on 13 May 1972 outside the packed pub on the Springfield Road, where locals were watching a football game between England and West Germany.

Sixty-three people were injured in the explosion, eight of them seriously, and 20-year-old barman John Moran died 10 days later.

During the violent gun battles in west Belfast which followed the bomb, a second barman, Thomas McIlroy, was shot dead.

Security services reported that the device was an IRA bomb that had exploded prematurely but 40 years later, victim’s relatives say they want answers.

“The British government are still saying that this was an IRA bomb and they still maintain that position,” said Lisa McNally, whose uncle and father died after the bomb.

“To add insult to injury the HET have concluded in their report that they have no evidence to say that there was any loyalist involvement in it.”

“On that day there was a Lance Corporal saying that the people who were involved in this were, in fact, the people who carried it out, so they were basically saying that my father and uncle were the ones that carried out this attack.

“We want their names cleared,” she added.

Paidraig Ó Muirigh is acting as a solicitor for the Kelly’s Bar families, who he said have never been told exactly what happened.

“In the immediate aftermath of the explosion the British security services put forward a theory that this was an IRA own goal. The whole community and the families were well aware that this was a loyalist attack on their community,” he explained.

The families are calling for an independent investigation into the attack and have asked the incoming Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire to examine the role played by the RUC.

Mr Ó Muirigh said they have also applied to the Attorney General to look at the inquests, as “the inquests at the time were as flawed as the investigations that were carried out” he commented.

Christy Mackin killed close to Belfast city centre in paramilitary-style assassination after allegations he had been dealing drugs

Henry McDonald
Guardian
3 Mar 2012

Republican paramilitaries have been blamed for the killing of a west Belfast man who was shot dead on Thursday night.

Christy Mackin was killed close to Belfast city centre in a paramilitary-style assassination. The victim, originally from the Whiterock area of the city, was shot up to seven times at close range at around 9.30pm.

Republican sources in Belfast told the Guardian it was likely that a republican organisation had targeted Mackin over allegations he had been dealing drugs. He was known to police.

Ambulance crews rushed to the scene and the victim was taken to the nearby Royal Victoria hospital, but later died.

People living in flats in the area reported that up to seven shots were fired during the attack.

The Alliance party assembly member Anna Lo condemned those behind the shooting, saying: “I am shocked to hear of the brutal and vicious attack on this man.

“I really do not know what would go through the mind of people who carry out attacks such as this shooting. Guns have absolutely no place on our streets.

“The people responsible for this gun attack are obviously very callous and dangerous individuals and must be urgently apprehended by the police. I would urge anybody with any information about this shooting to contact the police.”

Belfast’s Sinn Féin lord mayor, Niall Ó Donnghaile, said he was shocked by the killing and expressed sympathy for the victim’s family.

“A man has lost his life and people have produced guns on the streets of Belfast city centre, so it is a very worrying situation,” he said. “It’s a busy area. We’re quite lucky that we aren’t dealing with more fatalities.”

Republican dissident groups opposed to the peace process have previously targeted alleged drug dealers in Derry and the north-west. An organisation calling itself Republican Action Against Drugs crossed the border from Derry into Buncrana, Co Donegal, last month and shot Andrew Allen, a 24-year-old father of two, dead.

The group accused him of drug dealing and said he was on a death list which included five other named men. His murder provoked a cross-community protest in Derry, led by the veteran civil rights activist Eamon McCann.

Bobby Sands mural photo
Ní neart go cur le chéile

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'So venceremos, beidh bua againn eigin lá eigin. Sealadaigh abú.' --Bobby Sands