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Cold-case Troubles inquiries reopened as police seek brutal killers of two innocent Catholic fathers

BY NEVIN FARRELL

Published 21/09/2015

John Devine
John Devine
John O'Hara
Detective Inspector Neil McGuinness

Police have reopened probes into two sectarian murders of Catholics during the Troubles after new information was received by detectives.

Officers from the PSNI's Legacy Investigation Branch (LIB) are appealing for information in relation to the loyalist murders of the two men in Belfast in the late 1980s and early 90s.

Detective Inspector Neil McGuinness said: "Both these men were innocent Catholics, who were murdered for no other reason than their religion.

"Two families were left devastated; two wives lost their husbands and the children lost their fathers at the hands of callous murderers." John Benedict Devine was shot dead in his home in the Fallswater Street area of west Belfast on July 23, 1989.

At around 2pm, the 37-year-old married father was sitting in the living room of his home with his 13-year-old son when three men forced their way in and fired shots at him before escaping in a blue Vauxhall Cavalier taxi.

The coalman was shot eight times in the head and chest as he sat reading a newspaper. His wife discovered the murder when she returned home from a trip to the seaside with their two other children.

The Protestant Action Force, a cover name used by the UVF, claimed responsibility in a call to the a radio station.

Then on April 17, 1991, John Joseph Gerard O'Hara was shot in the Dunluce Avenue area of south Belfast.

The 41-year-old married father was working as a temporary taxi driver for the night.

He had gone to the area at approximately 10.15pm to pick up a passenger when he was approached by two masked men who fired several shots at the vehicle, fatally injuring him. The men then fled on foot down an entry between 124 and 126 Dunluce Avenue.

Mr O'Hara, a father-of-five from McAtamney Terrace in Belfast's Short Strand, was believed to have been shot by the UDA/UFF after answering a bogus call to pick up a fare.

At the time, another driver with the taxi firm said: "Because we are based in the Markets, it is obvious we are Catholics.

"They just have to lift the phone to get a Catholic."

DI McGuinness said: "As a result of information we have recently received, we believe we are now in a position to progress both these investigations, however, we need the help of the public.

"I am appealing to anyone who was in the area at the time of either of the murders, or anyone who has information in relation to the activities of loyalists in the area in the late 80s and early 90s, to come forward.

"Many years have now passed since these tragic events and no one has ever been charged in relation to them. However, we believe there are still people out there who can help us find those responsible and I would urge them to contact detectives."

Anyone with information should contact detectives on 101 or 028 9258 9140.

Belfast Telegraph

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