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19 October 2000 Edition

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IRA denies O'Connor shooting

The IRA has stated that it was not involved in the killing of Joseph O'Connor in the Ballymurphy area of West Belfast last Friday, 13 October.

In a statement issued on Tuesday 17 October by its leadership, the IRA said those accusing the IRA of involvement in the killing of O'Connor were heightening tension.

O'Connor, a member of the so-called `Real IRA', was shot dead as he visited his mother's Whitecliff Parade home. He was the grandson of 66-year-old Francisco Notorantonio, shot dead by loyalists within yards of Friday's shooting in November 1987.

In its statement, the IRA said: ``In light of the speculation and allegations surrounding the killing of Joseph O'Connor, the IRA wishes to state that it was not involved in his death. The IRA leadership extends its condolences to the O'Connor family.

``Malicious accusations suggesting IRA involvement are designed to heighten tension and promote the agenda of those opposed to current IRA strategy.

``Threats directed at the IRA do nothing but exacerbate the situation. The IRA leadership will not be deflected from our current strategy.''

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has called for calm in the aftermath of the shooting.

``Since the killing, many nationalists and republicans will be dismayed and disappointed at the claims and counter claims that have followed and while the reaction of the O'Connor family is understandable, remarks by others are ill-advised.

``There is a need for everyone to be calm and reflective. Nothing should be said or done by anyone which would increase tension at this difficult time.

``The republican agenda will not be served by any action or rhetoric which would exacerbate the current situation''.

Adams concluded by saying that he is prepared to meet the O'Connor family, ``if they consider that this would be helpful''.
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