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Police re-open investigations into historic murders of Catholic workmen

Published 21/09/2015

John Joseph Gerard O'Hara was murdered in Belfast in 1991 (PSNI/PA)
John Joseph Gerard O'Hara was murdered in Belfast in 1991 (PSNI/PA)
John Benedict Devine was murdered in Belfast in 1989 (PSNI/PA)
Detective Inspector Neil McGuinness said both men were "innocent Catholics who were murdered for no other reason than their religion"

Police have re-opened investigations into two sectarian murders in Belfast during the 1980s and 1990s.

Detectives from the Police Service of Northern Ireland's (PSNI) legacy investigation branch say they have enough information to progress the cases of two Catholic workmen who were shot dead in separate incidents by loyalist paramilitaries.

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 husband and their children lost their father at the hands of callous murderers."

John Benedict Devine, 37, was shot dead in front of his 13-year-old at his home on Fallswater Street, West Belfast on July 23, 1989.

The gunmen, who forced their way into his property, escaped in a blue Vauxhall Cavalier taxi.

Forty-one-year-old John Joseph Gerard O'Hara was shot at Dunluce Avenue in South Belfast on April 17, 1991.

He was working as a temporary taxi driver and had gone to to collect a passenger at about 10:15pm when he was targeted by two masked men.

They fled on foot down an entry between 124 and 126 Dunluce Avenue.

No one has ever been charged in connection to either of the killings.

Mr McGuinness said the public could hold the vital clues.

He added: " 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 the non emergency 101 number or 028 9258 9140.

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