Husband held after Belfast mother-of-four shot and killed in Co Cavan
A mother-of-four from west Belfast has been shot and killed at her home in the Republic.
A major police investigation is underway in the Republic after the body of Patricia Kierans (56) was discovered at her home just outside Baileborough, Co Cavan.
Her brutal death was followed by a dramatic siege of a pub in Bailieborough last night - which prompted a large-scale garda operation involving armed members of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU).
The woman's estranged husband, who barricaded himself in the pub armed with a shotgun, was arrested in the early hours of this morning after trained garda negotiators brought a near eight hour stand-off to an end.
It's understood three of Ms Kierans' four children have emigrated to Australia. The fourth was on a flight to meet his siblings when his mother was killed, a priest in the town revealed.
It is understood he was going out to see if emigration was an option for him and his young family.
"It's a time like this that it's the four adult children I would be concerned about. Three of them are in Australia and one of them was on his flight when this happened," curate Father Oliver O'Reilly told RTE.
"To face this on such a long journey home is awful. My thoughts and prayers are with them all."
Mrs Kierans was no longer living with her husband and had been living with her sister for some time.
Her body was discovered by gardai in a house in Drumbannon on the outskirts of the town.
She had suffered an obvious gun shot wound.
Gardai confirmed the alarm was raised at 6pm yesterday when the victim's sister reported her missing at Bailieborough Garda station, but they have appealed for anyone who spotted anything suspicious in the area since 10am to come forward.
Following the missing person report officers went to the Square Bar in the town to speak to Mrs Kierans' estranged husband at 7pm.
Superintendent David Taylor said the 56-year-old emerged from the basement brandishing a fireman and threatened gardai.
"Gardai immediately withdrew and evacuated the pub of the patrons and staff for public safety," he said.
No hostages were taken.
Detectives are trying to track the customers who fled from the pub.
Shortly afterwards gardai forced their way into the former family home in Drumbannon on the outskirts of the town where they discovered Mrs Kierans with an "obvious" gun shot wound.
The small rural town was sealed off as a Garda crisis management team was put in place, with armed officers and trained negotiators called to the scene.
The man surrendered and emerged from the rear of the bar at 3.20am this morning.
Gardai said no shots were fired and no-one was injured during the incident.
A post mortem is being carried out in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda to determine how long Mrs Kierans was dead.
The arrested man is understood to have been well-known to regulars in the Square Bar.
Gardai had appealed for a blackout on reporting of the incident when the alarm was first raised yesterday evening and requested media not to disclose details for several hours during the siege. There were concerns the man may have seen reports on the television or internet or heard bulletins about the incident on radio.
"The protection and preservation of life was the fundamental goal of An Garda Siochana during this operation," a spokesman for the Garda press office said.
Locals reported that the man had barricaded himself in the pub.
People living in the town centre were asked to remain in their homes during the incident and traffic was diverted around the town.
Ms Kierans' body was discovered at a house on the Drumbannon estate - 10 minutes away from the pub where the siege took place - after the armed man was discovered and armed gardai called in.
After the siege ended peacefully, the man was taken to Bailieborough Garda Station under the provisions of section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act 2007.
Forensic examaintions are taking place in the house where Mrs Kierans was found dead and in the pub.
Gardai have appealed for anyone who may have witnessed anything suspicious in Drumbannon to come forward.