Category: Archive

IRA man shot dead in S. Armagh feud

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The dispute, which does not involve dissident republicans opposed to the peace process, has the potential to cause further loss of life and serious political problems for the Sinn Fein leadership.
Keith Rodgers, 24, was shot dead in broad daylight after a street fight in the center of Culloville. The factions have two directly contradicting accounts of why the row broke out.
What is not in dispute is that Rodgers was hit by gunfire and died shortly after he was rushed to hospital across the border in Dundalk. Two other men were injured and one man has been arrested after presenting himself at Crossmaglen police station.
The IRA issued its own statement on Thursday, which said that Rodgers was a member and was “shot dead by an armed criminal.” The statement said the victim was unarmed at the time of his death and was not “on active service.”
The IRA said Rodgers “died while defending his community against armed criminals . . . [and] was held in high esteem by his comrades and by his community.”
A republican source, linked to the side of the row that Rodgers had supported, said its rivals used to be members of the IRA but had not been active “for some years.”
He accused them of being “criminals and persecuting people in the area with their activity” by hijacking cars and being involved with drug dealers who were linked to loyalists.
He also said they had “tried to kill a woman” who was taking a court case against them by running her car off the road. He said Rogers was hit with a blunt instrument after being shot.
The republican sources said a land dispute might be a factor, but it was only one of about 20 incidents. He said the IRA members had not retaliated to serious provocation so far and hoped they would “hold their nerve.”
The rival group have contradicted much of this, alleging that a senior republican figure wants to control all the land and business around his property, to the extent of preventing people not within his circle of building houses near his.
At the dead man’s funeral, journalists were asked to keep well back but details of what Belfast republican Brian Keenan told 2,000 mourners at the graveside oration were reported.
He said the killing was “treachery” and those responsible were “depraved, degenerate people — a band of vermin.”
“This was not a dispute between gangs,” Keenan said. “This was a case of IRA volunteers being fired on by criminals.”
During requiem Mass, Fr. Peter Clarke branded the killing “shameful” and called for no “retribution or revenge.”

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