Paramilitary-linked murders double in a year

Top row from left: Conor McKee, James McDonagh, Eddie Girvan, Anthony McErlain, Stephen Carson. Middle: Adrian Ismay, Laura Marshall, Michael McGibbon, Dan Murray, Gerard Quinn. Bottom row: John Boreland, Mark Lamont, Joe Reilly, James Hughes.
Brendan Hughes

ALMOST half of all murders in the north this year were linked to paramilitaries.

A total of 15 people suffered violent deaths during 2016, reflecting a continuing downward trend in the years since the Troubles.

There were 19 killings recorded by the PSNI in 2015.

However, six of the deaths this year had suspected paramilitary involvement – a significant increase from three last year and just one in 2014.

Five of the deaths were linked to republican groups and one to loyalists.

In January father-of-two Conor McKee (31) died from his injuries after being shot in the legs at his parents' home in the Oldpark area of north Belfast.

While the shooting has never been claimed, a splinter group with connections to the INLA has been linked to the murder.

In March prison officer Adrian Ismay (52), a father-of-three, died in hospital 11 days after a bomb exploded under his van in east Belfast.

A man has been charged with his murder.

In April, Michael McGibbon (33) was shot several times in the leg in an alley in Ardoyne in north Belfast and bled to death in what was thought to have been a botched paramilitary-style attack.

Dissident republican organisation 'the IRA' later claimed responsibility for the attack on the father-of-four.

The following month Dan Murray (55) was shot dead in west Belfast's Lady Street area after being lured there by a hoax call to the Chinese takeaway where he worked as a delivery driver.

The father-of-six had previously been targeted by republican paramilitaries.

Last year a gunman claiming to be from the "republican movement" burst into his home at St James Mews off the Antrim Road and shot him in the face.

Republican paramilitary group Action Against Drugs later claimed responsibility for the shooting, as well as a string of gun and bomb attacks across Belfast.

In August prominent UDA man John Boreland was shot dead in Sunningdale Gardens off the Ballysillan Road in north Belfast. He had been warned by police that his life was under threat.

Rival loyalists have been accused of murdering the 46-year-old, who was a close associate of Andre Shoukri.

And in October Joe Reilly (43), a father-of-one, was shot twice in the chest at Glenwood Court in Poleglass, west Belfast.

Two other people in the house at the time were told to lie on the kitchen floor while the attack took place.

Police said drugs and paramilitary involvement were definite lines of enquiry in the murder.

Overall one woman and 14 men suffered violent deaths during 2016.

In January married father-of-two James McDonagh died in hospital from head injuries after being attacked outside a bar in Toomebridge, Co Antrim.

The funeral of the 28-year-old, who came from a Travelling background, was held in Coalisland in Co Tyrone.

In the same month Eddie Girvan (67) was found bound and stabbed to death at his home in Greenisland. A woman is to stand trial next year accused of murder.

Anthony McErlain (48) was also found dead in January at a house in Ballycastle. Police said he had suffered a "traumatic and frightening death".

In February father-of-two Stephen Carson (28) was shot in the head at a house at Walmer Street in south Belfast. Two men have been charged with his murder.

In April dental nurse Laura Marshall's body was found in a block of flats on Victoria Street in Lurgan. A man has been charged with murdering the 31-year-old.

The following month Gerard Quinn (24), from Derry, died from a single stab wound to the neck with a broken glass following an altercation at a house party.

The father-of-one was a member of St Mary's GAA club in Ardmore and mourners at his funeral included his twin brother Michael. A teenager has been charged over the killing.

In September Gerald Mulligan died after being struck with a breeze block. His body was found in the boot of a car near his home in Lisburn.

His son Gerard Mulligan (44) had been accused of the murder but took his own life in November on while on remand in Maghaberry Prison.

A court heard Mr Mulligan had gone to his father's house at Limehurst Way in Lisburn to repair a vehicle, but an argument later ensued.

The PSNI, coroner and prisoner ombudsman have launched investigations into the jail death.

In October Mark Lamont (54) died in hospital some weeks after being attacked outside a house in Coleraine. A window cleaner has been accused of his murder.

And in November 62-year-old James Hughes was found dead at his 14th floor flat in Divis Tower in Belfast.

Another Divis Tower resident, James Devine (42), has been remanded into custody charged with his murder.


:: Downward trend: A decade of violent deaths in numbers

2006: 27

2007: 30

2008: 19

2009: 25

2010: 15

2011: 17

2012: 17

2013: 14

2014: 13

2015: 19

2016: 15


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