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Widow's disgust at rocket launcher video of Belfast dissidents at scene of husband's murder

By Stephanie Bell

A widow has hit out at terrorists who staged a show of strength in a controversial video at the spot where they callously shot her husband dead.

Joanne McGibbon, whose husband Michael was murdered by dissident republicans in Ardoyne in April, slammed the video showing masked men brandishing weapons as "sad and desperate".

The film has caused uproar on social media since it was posted in the past few days.

It shows members of the so-called New IRA with rocket launchers in Butler Place - an alleyway in Ardoyne where the 33-year-old father-of-four bled to death in his wife's arms.

Joanne, who has since left the area with her children, last night said the killers were dancing on Michael's grave.

"It is absolutely disgusting and it couldn't be more shocking if they had come into my home and done it," she said.

"It is not surprising, though, as they are the type of people who don't care about anything but money, drugs and power.

"It actually comes across quite desperate, as if they are trying to prove a point and say: 'We can kill anyone, anywhere and you're not going to stop us'. I think they are not as powerful as they think they are and they know they are not winning, and that the people in Ardoyne don't want them there."

Joanne (33), a nurse in the Royal Victoria Hospital, fought in vain to save Michael's life when he was shot in the alley close to their home for apparently having offended a relative of one of the terrorist group's members.

Their children Seana (17), Shea (8), Michaela (6) and Corry-Leigh (4) have been devastated by the loss of their father and Joanne has been devoted to helping support them.

Shortly after her husband's murder Joanne bravely staged a vigil at Holy Cross Church in his memory in a defiant stand for the community against dissident republicans. She has since moved her family out of the area because she couldn't bear to have them pass the spot close to their home where Michael was killed.

Shocked that the gunmen had returned to the alley to film themselves in a sick show of strength, Joanne added: "I think it is quite sad, really, as these people don't care whose lives they wreck and who they are hurting.

"They don't have any support and they do need to be stopped."

The PSNI said it was aware of the video. Superintendent Darrin Jones said: "Police are aware of a video having been posted on a social media site. Enquiries are ongoing."

The night before he was murdered, two dissident republicans called to Michael's home. But he refused to come to the door and the paramilitaries left before the PSNI arrived. The following day Michael was ordered to attend a prearranged New IRA punishment attack. He was blasted in the leg with a shotgun, and bled to death.

The New IRA was born out of an amalgamation of dissident groups in 2013. In its three years of existence it has murdered prison officers David Black and Adrian Ismay, and carried out a number of gun and bomb attacks on police. It is strongest in Ardoyne, parts of west Belfast, Lurgan, Craigavon, Derry city, and east Tyrone. The vast majority of people in these areas see the New IRA as nothing more than a criminal gang out to line its pockets and settle personal scores. Proof of this came with the murder of drug dealer Kevin Kearney, who was shot dead by for refusing extortion demands, and the killing of taxi driver Michael.

In January heroin addict Conor McKee was murdered by the New IRA in the Oldpark area of north Belfast. The 31-year-old was blasted three times by a masked gunman at Glenpark Street. In September four men were charged with dissident republican terrorist offences after police seized an improvised rocket launcher loaded with a Semtex projectile in Lurgan.

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