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11 December 1997 Edition

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Vigilance urged after killing

by Laura Friel

Nationalists are being urged to be vigilant following the sectarian murder of a 36-year-old Catholic man at St Enda's GAA club on the outskirts of North Belfast last Friday.

Gerry Devlin, a senior offical at the club, was shot dead as he arrived for an evening business meeting. An eyewitness saw a lone gunman standing over his victim in the car park ``in a shooting stance''. The GAA man was shot four times in the head and body at close range before his attacker ran off down a laneway. He died instantly at the scene. No group has claimed responsibilty but the killing has all the hallmarks of a random sectarian attack by loyalists.

``It had been feared,'' says Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly, ``that loyalist murder gangs, who have recently been feuding, would attempt to divert attention from their internal difficulties by targeting catholics. Such fears seem to have been borne out.'' Kelly urged nationalists to be ``extremely vigilant in the days ahead''. The shooting took place hours after Irish President Mary McAleese visited the nationalist Ardoyne area of North Belfast. ``Loyalists have never needed an excuse to kill Catholics,'' said Kelly, but the timing may be significant. Three Catholics were shot dead during Mary Robinson's first visit to the Six counties in 1992.

St Enda's GAA club, sited in a remote spot surrounded by loyalist areas, has been targeted for numerous sectarian attacks.
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