Belfast Telegraph

Gun gangs trying to drag us into the past, says MLA after brutal west Belfast attack on couple shot in legs

By Claire O'Boyle

Police and politicians have told criminal gangs to "back off" west Belfast and leave the community in peace.

The tough-talking message came after a married couple were shot in the legs as they watched TV at home on Thursday night.

Three masked gunmen burst into the house in the Turf Lodge area of the city, blasting the woman in her ankle before shooting her husband in his calf, knee and groin area.

Yesterday the couple in their 50s, named locally as Marie and Peter Dorrian, were believed to be undergoing surgery.

Sinn Fein MLA Pat Sheehan told the Belfast Telegraph that the community was appalled, and said such crimes had to stop.

"We can't have this going on, with women and children terrified of gunmen bursting into people's homes," he said.

"These injuries might not be life-threatening, but they're extremely serious.

"The couple are well-known and liked in the area and there's no suggestion they have any involvement in criminality.

"These criminals need to back off and let the ordinary people of west Belfast get on with their lives. They are not wanted. We don't want dragged into the past, and these people should go away and leave the community alone."

The PSNI echoed Mr Sheehan's calls, warning criminal gangs it was time to "get off the backs of the community".

Chief Inspector Norman Haslett said: "Thankfully the injuries are not life-threatening, but the ordeal the couple went through must have been quite horrific.

"This is a brutal and callous attack on a defenceless couple in their home. I would condemn it in the strongest possible terms.

"The people who did this have no moral compass whatsoever.

"We had a shooting in west Belfast before Christmas where a young 16-year-old boy was shot.

"We now have a couple shot in their own home.

"I am not linking them but this type of behaviour is totally unacceptable. The people who did this should get off the backs of the community. The community don't want them."

Mr Haslett urged the public to come to the police with information if they wanted to see the end of criminality in west Belfast, even if they haven't spoken to police before.

"These criminal gangs are trying to drag us into the past where no one wants to go," he said.

Police refused to comment on reports about possible motives behind the attack, including suggestions the gunmen were looking for the couple's son when they struck.

Alliance MLA Trevor Lunn branded those responsible as "cowards".

SDLP MLA for the area Alex Atwood described the double shooting as "the latest act of tyranny in west Belfast".

UUP MLA Doug Beattie said it was "a cowardly attack" on defenceless people.

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