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Tyrone shooting, Antrim bombing put North on knife’s edge

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Anne Cadwallader

BELFAST — The IRA is being blamed for the killing of a Catholic man, linked to drugs, in a County Derry bar on Friday, while loyalists are believed responsible for seriously injuring a man in a bombing in County Antrim on Sunday.

The loyalist feud, meanwhile, although showing no signs of resolution, has at least lessened in its ferocity. A prominent loyalist died last week, but it’s thought that was the result of a drugs overdose rather than murder.

RUC sources say the IRA was behind the murder of 32-year-old Patrick Quinn. The RUC has ruled out a sectarian motive for the killing, which took place at a bar in the town of Magherafelt Friday at 11 p.m.

Quinn recently moved to Magherafelt from the Ardboe area of County Tyrone, where his family still lives. It’s believed he was ordered out of the area by republicans for alleged drug dealing.

Two gunmen entered the bar and singled him out before firing at least four shots into his body. They fled the scene as pandemonium broke out in the pub, which is used by both Protestants and Catholics.

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In May, the IRA was accused of killing drug dealer Ed McCoy, who was shot in the head and stomach at bar on the outskirts of West Belfast. A year earlier the IRA was blamed for shooting Brendan "Speedy" Fagan in a Newry bar. It is also believed to have shot Paul "The Bull" Downey in South Armagh four weeks later.

The SDLP’s Patsy McGlone, who knows the victim’s family, said: "Under no circumstances can there be any justification for a killing of this kind. My sympathy in these very difficult and trying circumstances obviously goes to the entire Quinn family who I know very well. They are devastated."

In Sunday’s explosion, a Protestant man received serious leg injuries after a bomb exploded near him near Larne. He was with a Catholic friend, John Shaw, who, it is thought, was the intended victim of the attack.

The Shaw family has been the target of repeated loyalist attacks. One member of the family has been murdered and the homes of other members have been petrol-bombed and fired upon.

Some family members would have republican sympathies but would not be considered active in republican paramilitary circles. Members of the family have been repeatedly arrested by the RUC and one is taking a case to the European Court of Human Rights alleging harassment.

Sunday’s blast happened at 8:30 a.m. on a pathway near the main Larne railway line close Magheramourne, Co. Antrim. Shaw said it had been an awful experience, seeing a friend taking the full force of an explosion meant for him.

RUC Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan said the attack was a "deliberate attempt to kill or maim someone. Three men were going to dig for bait and, as the first one climbed over a fence to reach the beach, he seems to have triggered some sort of trip wire and activated a device which has caused him very serious leg injuries."

Meanwhile, there’s increasing controversy over the attempted gagging of a Sunday newspaper that has been prevented from publishing further details of allegations of British Army collusion with loyalist paramilitaries.

For the second week running, the British defense secretary, Geoff Hoon, has obtained a court order against the Northern Ireland edition of the Sunday People, a London-based tabloid newspaper.

The paper has published reports alleging that a British military unit colluded with loyalists in a number of attacks on nationalists, including the killing of Francisco Notorantonio in Belfast in 1987.

The dead man’s family says he was killed to protect the identity of a top IRA informer who is still senior in Sinn Fein and involved at a high level at Stormont. This has been denied by republicans, who say this part of the story is a "dirty tricks" operation to distract from the central allegation of collusion.

In a statement on Saturday, the newspaper said it had gone back to the High Court in London on Friday to fight the gag order for a second time but had failed in its attempt to overturn it.

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