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Republican group Action Against Drugs claims responsibility for two killings

Armed members of Action Against Drugs pictured in the New Lodge area of north Belfast several years ago

A republican paramilitary group has claimed responsibility for shooting dead two men in Belfast in the past year.

Action Against Drugs (AAD) said it killed Dan Murray and Joe Reilly and alleged that both men had been involved in drug dealing.

The group also claimed that it has tried to kill three other men in Belfast over the past 12 months.

It ordered the named men, who have also been accused of being drug dealers, to leave Ireland or face death.

It is believed one of those under threat was questioned by police about the murder of former IRA commander Gerard ‘Jock' Davison almost two years ago.

AAD said it killed fast food delivery man Dan Murray with a 9mm handgun during a bogus call-out to an address at Lady Street in west Belfast last May.

In April the previous year, the 55-year-old was shot in the face in his north Belfast home.

At the time Mr Murray denied being involved in the drugs trade.

AAD has also claimed the shooting of Joe Reilly in Poleglass, on the outskirts of west Belfast, last October.

Although it was reported at the time that the father-of-one was shot twice, the group said in a statement that Mr Reilly was shot three times from a .38 handgun.

It claimed both victims failed to heed previous warnings.

The group also said it had attempted to kill three men it accused of being drug dealers in Belfast last year and this year.

It added that the intended victims had now been ordered to leave Ireland or be killed.

Meanwhile, sources say AAD has moved away from 'knee-capping' and instead plans to shoot victims in the stomach, potentially causing fatal injuries.

A source said the decision was taken because some victims viewed their wounds as a “badge of honour” and received significant compensation for their injuries.

Sources suggest that foreign nationals who sell drugs will be targeted in the same way as local dealers.

While foreign national gangs have been accused of involvement in the drugs trade in Belfast, there has been no record of any paramilitary action against alleged dealers.

In its statement, AAD said it will continue to target suspected dealers and also claimed it does not 'tax' drug dealers.

Former SDLP Policing Board member Dolores Kelly last night condemned the threats and voiced concern over a lack of “public outcry” when people accused of drug dealing are targeted.

“It's almost a tacit approval that such barbarism is acceptable in northern Irish society,” she said.

“This is not the peace that people voted for and is really difficult to fathom.

“These types of incidents are all too common.”

Mrs Kelly said people have become tolerant of violence.

“We have become desensitised to violence over the years, there is a legacy of that.

“Is that really the type of society we want our children to grow up in?”

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