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Arlene Foster urges communities to help rid Northern Ireland of paramilitaries

Published 18/04/2016

Arlene Foster stressed the need for information in the wake of the murder of father of four Michael McGibbon
Arlene Foster stressed the need for information in the wake of the murder of father of four Michael McGibbon

Northern Ireland's First Minister has called on communities to help rid the region of the evil of paramilitaries who use violence to mete out their own so-called justice.

Arlene Foster stressed the need for information in the wake of the murder of father-of-four Michael McGibbon in north Belfast.

Taxi driver Mr McGibbon, 33, was shot three times in the legs in an alleyway in the nationalist Ardoyne area on Friday night - 24 hours after two men came to his house to threaten him.

His wife Joanne, a nurse, tried to save him before he was taken to the city's Royal Victoria Hospital where he later died after undergoing surgery.

A 34-year-old man arrested on Sunday in connection with the murder remained in police custody on Monday.

Mrs Foster condemned the killers and insisted people in Ardoyne held the key to securing justice for Mr McGibbon's family.

"It is really shocking to hear of such a murder and indeed the style in which it happened," she said.

"My deepest sympathy goes to the McGibbon family.

"The community in and around north Belfast hold the answers for the police in this matter. I would appeal to them to work with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to bring these people to justice."

She added: "This is a terrible tragedy. Of course Northern Ireland is in a much better place now than it was many years ago but we still have to deal with this evil that is on our streets and I give my full support to the Police Service of Northern Ireland in order to do that."

The Democratic Unionist leader said last year's "Fresh Start" political agreement at Stormont contained "actions and strategies" to tackle paramilitarism.

"We will work very hard to stop these people on the ground, but we need the help of the communities where these actions take place to bring this to an end, so I really do call upon the people of north Belfast to come forward with information."

Mrs Foster made the comments at a DUP election event in Belfast.

Later, she issued a joint statement with Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

Stormont's leaders said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of this young man at this time.

"The perpetrators of this attack have shown complete contempt for the local community and are trying to bring intimidation and fear on to the streets of north Belfast.

"We reject their agenda and actions and urge anyone with any information to bring it to the PSNI."

The man being questioned by detectives is prominent north Belfast republican Dee Fennell. The 34-year-old is a spokesman for the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC).

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said those who knew who killed Mr McGibbon had a responsibility to come forward.

"Once again a family has been plunged into mourning following a despicable murder," he said.

"There are people out there who know who murdered Michael McGibbon and society demands that they speak out. There are no excuses for holding back otherwise the murderers will be free to inflict more pain in the future.

"I offer my deepest sympathies to Mrs McGibbon, their children and the wider family circle."

He was questioned at Musgrave Police station in Belfast and later released unconditionally, a spokesman for t he Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said.

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