Belfast Telegraph

'Unite against the gunmen' - Ford

The community needs to unite against dissident republican gunmen who, it appears, killed two men in Northern Ireland, justice minister David Ford has said.

He blamed "thugs" with no justification for their crimes and urged Stormont's assembly to live up to the work of the security forces in dealing with the threat posed.

Dissident republicans have been accused of targeting their victims for summary execution-style shootings in Belfast and Londonderry because of alleged criminality.

Mr Ford said: "It is right that we should stand this morning and in a united way condemn such attacks.

"Whatever motivation is claimed by these thugs and terrorists, whether they are unionist or nationalist in background, they have no right to the actions they take."

Barry McCrory, 35, was gunned down in a flat in Londonderry city centre last week, less than 24 hours after the body of father-of-four Kevin Kearney was found dumped in a lake in north Belfast. The 46-year-old had also been shot.

Both men were known to police for previous offending.

The finger of suspicion has been pointed firmly in the direction of violent republican extremists, who in the past have carried out attacks as a way of administering their own brutal form of vigilante justice.

The murders came as Northern Ireland prepared to welcome more than a hundred business leaders to a major conference aimed at attracting overseas investment to the region.

Mr Ford added: "This assembly is where the people of Northern Ireland decide their future, not thugs on the street and that has to be the message that goes out from all of us together. Let us ensure that is the message, let us ensure that we work together in a constructive way and let us ensure that we collectively provide the support which the police need.

"We should thank the police, we should thank the army technical officers for the work they have carried out in recent days, as we should ensure that politics lives up to their work."

Major traffic disruption has also been caused by bomb hoaxes in recent times.

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