Motorbike checked in murder hunt

BBC—06 July 2001

Teenager was shot at Greystone roundabout in Antrim

Police hunting the killers of a Catholic teenager who was shot dead on Wednesday are examining a black motorbike found at a garage in a loyalist area of Antrim.

They are trying to establish if it is the same one that was used as a getaway vehicle in the attack on 19-year-old Ciaran Cummings.

They also recovered two replica weapons, balaclavas and combat-style clothing during the search on the Ballycraigy estate.

Mr Cummings was shot at the Greystone roundabout in Antrim town just after 0700 BST on Wednesday as he waited for a lift to work.

His funeral will take place at 0930 BST on Saturday at St Joseph's parish church in the town.

It would be our belief at this stage that Ciaran was murdered by so-called loyalists

Sir Ronnie Flanagan

The police have said they are taking seriously a claim from the Red Hand Defenders that it carried out the murder.

Meanwhile, the RUC Chief Constable, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, has dismissed Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble's claims that republicans were responsible for the murder of Mr Cummings.

On Thursday, on RTE radio, Mr Trimble said: "I know that yesterday a statement came from one of these dissident loyalist groups.

"But there's good reason to believe that republicans were behind the Antrim murder."

However, speaking on RTE radio on Friday, Sir Ronnie said he believed loyalists were behind Wednesday's killing.

He said: "It would be our belief at this stage that Ciaran was murdered by so-called loyalists."

The senior detective investigating the killing has also rejected suggestions from Mr Trimble that republicans were behind the teenager's murder.

On Thursday, Detective Superintendent John Brannigan said: "There is presently no information to suggest that republicans were involved in the murder of Ciaran Cummings."

Ciaran Cummings was shot on his way to work

Mr Cummings was approached by two men on a black motorcycle and was shot several times. He died at the scene.

A person claiming to speak for the dissident loyalist group the Red Hand Defenders said it carried out the shooting.

Several loyalist groups, most notably the Loyalist Volunteer Force, have used the title of the Red Hand Defenders as a cover name.

The family's parish priest, Father John Murray, said the Cummings were struggling with their pain.

Fr Murray described the 19-year-old as "full of life, full of dreams and ambitions".

Local nationalist and unionist political representatives have said they believe it was a sectarian murder by loyalists.

Sinn Fein councillor, Martin Meehan, said the victim had received "verbal threats from the LVF".

Distraught father

Ken Wilkinson, a local representative from the Progressive Unionist Party, which is linked to the loyalist paramilitary UVF, said Mr Cummings' distraught father visited him shortly after the murder to see if he could find out any information about it.

The police believe that after the shooting the attackers made their way up the Greystone Road in the direction of the M2 motorway.

Detectives are continuing their appeal for information.

SDLP assembly member Donovan McClelland appealed to community representatives to try to calm tensions following the murder.


This page last updated 21-Mar-2006