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Daughter of Belfast murder victim McGibbon calls on community to speak out against paramilitaries

Published 08/06/2016

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 19th April 2016 Seana McGibbon and joins members of the public at a vigil in the grounds of Holy Cross Church, Ardoyne, in support of the family of taxi driver and father-of-four Michael McGibbon
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 19th April 2016 Seana McGibbon and joins members of the public at a vigil in the grounds of Holy Cross Church, Ardoyne, in support of the family of taxi driver and father-of-four Michael McGibbon
Joanne with her children Corry-Leigh, Michaela, Seana and Shea
Michael McGibbon, a 33-year-old taxi driver, was left to bleed to death after being shot three times in an alleyway in Ardoyne
Michael McGibbon and wife Joanne McGibbon

Michael McGibbon’s eldest daughter has said that more people need to speak out against paramilitaries to stop more murders in their community.

Seana McGibbon was just 17 when her dad Michael was shot in an alleyway in Ardoyne in April.

The 33-year-old bled to death in the arms of his wife Joanne just yards from their family home.

Seana, the eldest of his four children, contacted the Nolan Show on Wednesday in response to the release of a report on the disbandment of paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland.

The independent action plan on how to deal with paramilitary groups published yesterday warned that if steps were not taken by the Executive, Policing Board and the PSNI to enhance community policing, "it is unlikely that significant progress can be made towards a culture of lawfulness".

Seana said: “I just want to express my anger towards how people are dealing with the criminals who did it. I think that it’s so unfair that they are able to get away with it and because they are a law unto themselves, nothing will be placed unto them. We’re having to suffer for their actions. They’re doing it to their own people and it’s not fair.

“My dad was ordered to go down to an alleyway and meet murderers from paramilitary groups. They gave him no reason why. He went to protect us, not to get murdered. He wanted to protect his family and show that he was innocent.”

The taxi driver was ordered to meet paramilitaries in an alleyway after he allegedly said something to offend the daughter of a republican paramilitary.

His wife Joanne described the murder as a “punishment shooting”.

Seana added: “Society in general isn’t doing enough. Everyone knows who the criminals are and they are afraid to speak out. If we all stand together, what’s the problem? Paramilitaries are a minority, why can’t the majority take over?

“Loads of people have lost family members and it’s just too much now. There’s bigger issues in the world than killing people because of jealousy or spite or whatever they are killing them for. Would you want your son, your husband, your father, your brother being murdered? Because that could happen. With their information, they need to speak out and make a difference so that won’t happen to them.”

Seana's mother Joanne had spoken out at a community vigil attended by hundreds of people after his death and had told the community that they needed to stand together.

"I think if we all stay strong we can stop these people, because we are stronger than them, and they can't beat us," she said.

"It's not fair that families have to go through this - they're not judge and jury."

On Saturday, a rally was organised  in Belfast City Centre against so-called punishment attacks but only a small number of people turned out in support.

Latest PSNI figures show that during 2015/16 there were 14 casualties resulting from paramilitary-style shootings - a 61% decrease in the number from the previous year, and approximately half the number recorded 10 years ago in 2006/07.

Thirteen of the 14 casualties were attributed to republicans and one to loyalists.

There were 58 casualties as a result of paramilitary-style assaults in 2015/16 - the same number as in 2014/15 and 10 more than the 48 recorded 10 years ago. Of these, 47 were attributed to loyalists and 11 were attributed to republicans.

Last week, a man in his 30s was shot in the leg in an alleyway close to a primary school in Poleglass in west Belfast.

Less than an hour later, in Ardoyne in north Belfast, a 30-year-old man was shot in both feet after being dragged from a house in Cranbrook Gardens.

Remarkably, the bullets failed to get through his footwear and he was taken to hospital with minor injuries to his feet.

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