An Phoblacht/Republican News—05 July 2001

Kieran Cummings, the Catholic teenager shot dead in Antrim yesterday morning, was recently threatened by loyalists says Sinn Féin councillor Martin McManus, who blames the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) for the killing.

Cummings was shot dead at about 7.15am on Wednesday morning, 4 July, at the Greystones Roundabout in Antrim as he waited for a lift to work. According to eyewitnesses, two men on a motorbike drove past him, then got off the bike and pretended to fix something on the machine. As Cummings walked past, the pair opened fire, apparently with a shotgun, hitting him several times. He was initially shot in the back then, as he lay on the ground, in the head.

According to reports Cummings died at the scene.

McManus firmly believes the LVF was responsible for the killing, as the loyalist death squad has been ``very active in the Antrim area in recent years'' and in the recent past had threatened Kieran Cummings and other young Catholics in the Antrim area. According to McManus, the LVF unit that came into being in the Antrim area after the split in the UVF has been involved in at least seven killings, the most recent of which were the killings of Sean Browne and Ciaran Heffron.

Bellaghy GAA stalwart Sean Browne was found dead in his burned out car on the Randalstown Road on 12 May 1997 and Ciaran Heffron and 22-year-old Heffron was found dead in Crumlin village on 22 April 1998, in a killing claimed by the LVF.

In the recent past LVF elements have been raising tension in the Antrim area. The loyalists, concerned to protect their drugs market, have been embroiled in attacks on PUP representatives who have opposed drug dealing. However, the main targets of these attacks have been Catholics living in isolated areas of Antrim town.

As An Phoblacht goes to press, the Red Hand Defenders, in a statement released through a Belfast newsroom, claimed responsibility for the killing saying the killing was in response to the election of two Sinn Féin councillors to Antrim Borough Council in June's elections. The Red Hand Defenders (RHD) tag has been used as a flag of convenience for both the LVF and UDA in claiming responsibility for their actions over the past week.

Indeed, as recently as last week, a warning about a bomb planted in the Holy Cross Girls school was phoned in in the name of the RHD before leading UDA man and associate of Johnny Adair, Gary Smith, had his license revoked and was questioned about the bomb alert.


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