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Death of veteran republican Henry McErlean in Ardoyne house fire not suspicious, say police

By Laura Abernethy

Published 15/09/2015

A forensic expert at the scene of Sunday’s fatal fire in Ardoyne
A forensic expert at the scene of Sunday’s fatal fire in Ardoyne

Police are not treating the death of a former IRA prisoner in a north Belfast house fire as suspicious.

The man, named locally as Henry McErlean, died on Sunday night after a fire at his home on Ladbrook Drive in Ardoyne.

Police, ambulance and fire crews rushed to the blaze at around 7.30pm on Sunday, but Mr McErlean, who was in his 60s, died at the scene. A spokesman for the NI Ambulance Service said: "We attended a fire call on Ladbrook Drive but did not take anybody from the scene."

The house was later sealed off as police forensic experts searched for clues.

A witness said: "There doesn't appear to be much damage to the outside of the house.

"However, this is a tragedy and local people are shocked."

Yesterday, police said they were awaiting the results of a post-mortem examination but they do not believe there were any other parties involved.

Mr McErlean was a "lifelong republican from a staunch republican position," a spokesman for the Republican Network Unity said.

In 2009, he unveiled a plaque to four members of republican youth organisation Na Fianna Éireann - Davy McAuley, Josh Campbell, Josie McComiskey and Bernard Fox, who died in 1972.

"He spent his adult life confronting partition and British rule in Ireland and spent long years in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh as a captured republican soldier," an RNU spokesman said.

"Henry will be sadly missed by all who knew and loved him and his loss will be deeply felt by the republican family."

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