Northern Ireland

Kevin Kearney murder: Family are 'torn apart'

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Media captionMartin Kearney said his brother was "no angel" but that nothing justified his callous killing.

A brother of a man murdered by dissident republicans in north Belfast has said he was "no angel" but that nothing justified his callous killing.

Kevin Kearney, 46, was found dead in a lake in Alexandra Park, off the Antrim Road, last Wednesday. He had been shot.

The IRA grouping responsible said it had killed Mr Kearney over drugs.

His brother, Martin, said the family had been "torn apart". He was speaking as police returned to the scene of the shooting to appeal for information.

"For all the faults of the British justice system, it's a better system than to have someone step out of a bush and execute you, take your life," he said.

Image caption Kevin Kearney was 46 and a father of four

On 15 October, as part of the police reconstruction, an actor walked the short distance from Kevin Kearney's home to Alexandra Park where the father of four was murdered.

The actor was accompanied by the dead man's two dogs, who were with him when he was killed.

It has emerged that the family became concerned when the dogs returned home alone later in the day.

Martin Kearney described his brother as a "family man".

"He lived for his children. He spent almost every hour with his children. It has torn the family apart. It has been a very emotional week. We're just devastated," he said.

He has appealed for any members of the nationalist and republican community who have any information to come forward.

"If they can't talk to the police about it, talk to Sinn Féin about it and have these evil people brought before the courts," he said.

"This has destroyed our whole family. It has left four children without a father. They're just demons."

Police have said they believed dissident republicans were behind Mr Kearney's murder and that drugs was one line of enquiry in the murder investigation.

The Irish News has said it received a statement from a dissident republican group calling itself "the IRA" that claimed it killed Mr Kearney.

Image caption A silver Peugeot 406 car, registration number GNZ 8168, that police believe may be connected to the murder was placed at Donore Court

Martin Kearney said a statement issued by the republican grouping, in which it threatened members of the Kearney family, "didn't deserve a comment."

Masked and armed men entered a bar in Ardoyne, north Belfast, in the early hours of Monday and read out names of people it said should leave the area.

Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly has said two of those named were relatives of Mr Kearney.

Mr Kelly said he believed the organisation also murdered Danny McKay in the Whitewell area of north Belfast in October 2012.

"A number of armed and masked men went in, read out a statement that they had been giving out around the district and claimed the murder of Kevin Kearney and then threatened a couple of members of the same family," the Sinn Féin assembly member said.

"Clearly, here is a family which is in the middle of grieving and then has to face more threats from this organisation."

Image caption An actor re-created the last known movements of Kevin Kearney

He said a third person was also threatened and he urged people to come forward to help put the killers behind bars.

"Last year the same organisation, I understand, also shot Danny McKay dead down in the Whitewell area," Mr Kelly said.

"What we need is information to take these people off the street, they have absolutely no community support. If they thought by going into that bar that they would gain support they have done themselves more damage."

In a statement, police said: "Police in north Belfast are aware of an incident at licensed premises in the Ardoyne area at around 12.30am on the morning of Monday 14 October when a number of armed men are reported to have entered and issued a statement.

"Enquiries into this incident are ongoing and anyone with any information is asked to contact CID in Tennent Street on 0845 600 8000."

They said they do not comment on the safety of individuals.

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