Catholic teenager gunned down in Antrim

Source: The Guardian Unlimited

Special report: Northern Ireland

Staff and agencies

Wednesday July 4, 2001

Police officers remove the body of Ciaran Cummings at the scene of his murder on the outskirts of Antrim. Photo: PA

A 19-year-old Catholic man was shot dead today in Northern Ireland in a killing that police have described as "professional and well organised".

Ciaran Cummings was waiting for a lift to work at the Greystone roundabout in Antrim when he was gunned down by two men who approached him on a motorcycle. He died at the scene.

A friend of the victim's family, Mary Matthews, said: "The whole family is devastated. They just cannot take it in. He was a normal 19-year-old with plenty of friends from both sides of the community. I don't know why anyone would want to kill him."

The shooting - which Sinn Fein immediately condemned as a sectarian attack - came as the Northern Ireland parades commission reviewed a decision to block the Portadown Orangemen from marching down the nationalist Garvaghy Road in Drumcree.

An announcement on the march was expected later today.

Police said two men on a black motorcycle with a gold stripe stopped at the roundabout and approached their victim before opening fire. The gunmen were wearing white and black crash helmets.

Assistant chief constable Alan McQuillan said: "This was a very professional, well-organised, well planned shooting.

"It was not random. They knew who they were going for. We cannot rule out a sectarian motive."

The prime minister, Tony Blair, condemned the killing, which he said was "a tragic and terrible event."

Several people were believed to have witnessed the shooting. The motorcycle then sped off in the direction of the M2 motorway.

There have been fears that hardline loyalist paramilitaries, whom Sinn Fein alleged were behind today's killing, may exploit the ban.

However, yesterday the province's largest loyalist paramilitary groupings, the Ulster Defence Association and Ulster Freedom Fighters said they would not get involved in any Drumcree protests, although it was a matter for individual members what they did.

Mrs Matthews said that the dead teenager lived on the mixed Greystones estate, adding: "It is an estate where nobody bothers anyone. You see for yourself there are no flags flying round here.

"I can't work out what the reason was for this but do they have to have a reason? It's just another young life snuffed out and another family left to grieve."

Antrim Sinn Fein councillor Martin McManus said he had no doubts it was a sectarian killing.

"He was a Catholic and because of this silly Drumcree parade, which is causing division in this country again, this young man has lost his life."

Mr McManus said the killing was witnessed by others who were also waiting for lifts to work.

The shooting was also condemned by Alliance, Ulster Unionist and Northern Ireland Unionist assembly members for the area.


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