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Killers have taken away family's heart, Holland vigil told

By Connla Young and Margaret Canning

Harry Holland's murderers have taken away the heart of his family, his daughter told a vigil in his memory.

Up to 1,000 people attended the vigil on the site of Anderonstown police station in memory of the greengrocer, who was stabbed to death as he tried to stop thieves stealing his work van.

Police have released one of two 15-year-old girls being questioned about the murder.

Two 17-year-old males also remain in custody.

Mr Holland, who was 65, was stabbed in the head with a screwdriver as he tried to stop a gang of joyriders from breaking into a van parked outside his Norfolk Drive home shortly before midnight on Tuesday.

A massive music fan, the strains of Bob Dylan anthems greeted hundreds of people who gathered at the site of the old Andersonstown PSNI station to support the Holland family last night.

There they heard the dead man's daughter, Sarah, speak of her family's grief.

She said: "We just want to thank you all for coming this evening. It's a great comfort for us to know other people feel our pain. The heart of our family has been taken away but we are finding a lot of comfort from our neighbours and friends."

The murdered man's brother-in-law, John Devlin, urged young people in west Belfast to turn their backs on anti-social behaviour.

He said: "We appeal to them tonight, don't let a small minority tar you with an ugly brush. Just stand up and say no - no more."

Earlier, family friend Monsignor Tom Toner said prayers for the family and spoke of how Mr Holland's life was "cruelly ended".

In an emotional address, West Belfast MP Gerry Adams called on the PSNI to do more to protect local communities from criminals.

He added: "Our community was not cowed by decades of military occupation, terrorism and repression. We will not be put down or dictated to by the thugs who murdered Harry Holland. We are ready and willing to stand against them. For now, this evening, we stand with the Holland/Devlin family.

"We stand with them at this time of great personal tragedy. We cannot bring Harry back. But we can stand for him as he stood up for us. Our message is straight forward. We want the criminals and thugs off our streets. "

A father of four, Mr Holland died on Wednesday after being kept on a life support machine until two of his daughters returned from Spain.

A popular figure in west Belfast, he ran a fruit and vegetable shop on the Glen Road.

It emerged last night that the Northern Ireland Executive has sent a message of condolence to the Holland family.

First Minister Ian Paisley said: "We have expressed our sorrow over the tragic and dreadful murder of a decent and honourable man who was held in the highest esteem by his local community. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this most difficult time."

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness added: "Harry Holland was hugely respected by all those who knew him both in west Belfast and beyond and I will be passing on the condolences of the whole Executive to his family later today.

"We are all appalled that the life of a man who contributed to the community has been so cruelly cut short."

This morning, the district commander for west Belfast, Chief Superintendent Gary White, defended the PSNI's record in west Belfast.

He said officers were working hand in hand with the community, community agencies and politicians to ensure that they delivered a safer place to live.

He said that when a tragic incident such as the murder of Harry Holland occurred, people were concerned and looked for reassurance.

Speaking on Radio Ulster, he said: "By way of reassurance, crime is down in the west of the city, down considerably, but not to be complacent about that, I think we can do more and I want to do more and with the help of the community we can do more."

Chief Superintendent White said he had been reassured in the past few days since the murder by the number of people who had come forward.

And he reissued his appeal for more information to enable the culprits to be brought to justice.

Belfast Telegraph


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