Northern Ireland news

Kevin McGuigan funeral told 'revenge does not solve problems'

Lesley-Anne McKeown, Press Association
18 August, 2015 13:16

Violence and revenge do not solve problems, mourners at the funeral for murder victim Kevin McGuigan have been told.

Hundreds of people packed into St Matthews Church, close to the scene of last week's shooting in the Short Strand area of east Belfast, for the requiem mass.

Father John Nevin said: "Violence does not solve problems. Violence, war and revenge does not solve problems but creates more. The circle goes on."

Mr McGuigan, a 53-year-old father of nine, was gunned down in a suspected feud between former IRA members.

The ex-republican prisoner was hit a number of times at point-blank range in front of his wife Dolores outside their home in Comber Court.

His funeral service was held hours after murder squad detectives arrested three men aged 41, 44 and 53.

Fr Nevin said the victim's family had questioned why he was killed.

"I have no answers for these tragedies that wreck families," the priest added.

Among the mourners was Sinn Fein former lord mayor of Belfast Niall O Donnghaile, who is from the Short Strand district.

Earlier, crowds gathered outside the family home sang, clapped and cheered as the coffin was carried out. Young GAA players formed a guard of honour.

Floral wreaths left at the scene read "Big Kev", "husband" and "son".

Mr McGuigan was suspected by some in the republican movement of involvement in the murder of former IRA leader Gerard "Jock" Davison in the nearby Markets area of Belfast three months ago.

There has been widespread speculation his killing was a revenge attack by Mr Davison's one-time associates in the IRA which, if proven, could have major implications for the peace process.

Stormont's First Minister Peter Robinson has warned Sinn Fein it would face expulsion from the power-sharing Executive if the IRA was responsible.

Mr McGuigan's relatives have used social media to accuse the IRA.

His daughter, Sarah Jane McGuigan, said on Facebook: "Even the dogs in the street no them scum IRA murdered my daddy a good man and a loyal republican there is no man could fill his boots and they no that."

Her brother, Teddy McGuigan, endorsed the comment, adding: "Never seen truer words."

Sinn Fein has rejected the suggestion of IRA involvement.

There was a significant security presence in the area with officers deployed in Land Rovers throughout the Short Strand and adjacent loyalist Lower Newtownards Road. The PSNI helicopter also hovered overhead.

At one point loyalists attempted to heckle some of the mourners but police kept the two groups apart.

Fr Nevin told the congregation who had packed into the church that "hundreds" of sympathy cards had been sent to the McGuigan family.

"That says something about him, about his family," he said. "There is a lot of love, gratitude and appreciation for all the good that Kevin did in life.

"The media - the mistakes that people make are highlighted in the media. The good that people do is often buried with their bones."

Afterwards Mr McGuigan's widow Dolores helped carry the coffin out of the church.

The cortege made its way back past the scene of the crime and on to the City Cemetery in west Belfast for burial.

18 August, 2015 13:16 Northern Ireland news

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