Northern Ireland news

Michael McGibbon murder: Widow meets Charlie Flanagan

Joanne McGibbon meets Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan at the Houben Centre in north Belfast. Picture by Hugh Russell

THE widow of murder victim Michael McGibbon said she hopes more will be done to tackle dissident attacks as she met Irish foreign affairs minister Charlie Flanagan in north Belfast yesterday.

Joanne McGibbon, a nurse, tried to save her 33-year-old husband after he was shot in the leg by the group calling itself the 'IRA' in Ardoyne last month.

"I'd like to see a change here in Ardoyne," she said. "Just a change everywhere, because we can't just let these groups run our environments any more."

Rector of Holy Cross Church Fr Gary Donegan, who invited Mr Flanagan to north Belfast, said the meeting had "gone well".

"He'd been here before," he said. "He showed great interest in the place and people. He met with Joanne, the widow of Michael McGibbon, but he also wanted a sense of where people were at in light of the upcoming marching season."

He said in recent weeks he was aware of 30 people in the greater Belfast area who had been ordered to leave by paramilitaries.

"I went up the Reek (Croagh Patrick) on Saturday to raise money for charity and when I came back there were two more names across my desk," he said.

"It's incredible to think that while we were doing something good other people were planning or kill or maim."

The Passionist priest, who has been at Holy Cross for 15 years and is celebrating his 25th year in the priesthood, said his order will hold its 'chapter' next month to review the positions of all its priests.

Fr Donegan said he did not know if his position would change.

"Loving Ardoyne and loving the people of Ardoyne who have adopted me, I am very well aware that a chapter is coming," he said.

It is understood Mr Flanagan offered his condolences to Mrs McGibbon and the wider community in Ardoyne during their meeting.

Speaking beforehand, he told UTV "I believe it's important that every effort is made on the part of the community to ensure that we can rid communities of violence".

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