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Last Updated: Monday, 13 August 2007, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
Taoiseach defends loyalist grant
Thomas Devlin
Thomas Devlin was stabbed to death
Bertie Ahern's 4,000 euro donation to a loyalist estate has been clarified by a spokesman.

Penny Holloway criticised the grant, saying some people in the Mount Vernon estate in north Belfast were harbouring her teenage son's killers.

Thomas Devlin, 15, was stabbed to death on 10 August 2005 as he walked home.

The spokesman said the grant for an art piece was "in the context of the commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme".

The grant was made to the Mount Vernon Community Development Forum through the Commemoration Initiatives Fund.

The spokesman said the fund was "established to make resources available to groups and organisations for the study and commemoration of historic events of national importance".

"By providing financial support to local organisations, the aim of the fund is to assist and encourage the development of local programmes of commemoration," he added.

"Given the limited budget available, such funding is, in general and by necessity, of a token nature."

Ms Holloway and her husband wrote to Mr Ahern to make clear their disgust at his office's decision.

Ms Holloway said: "It is wrong that this money from the taoiseach is being used to give the impression this community has changed.

"We wrote to him because we felt the taoiseach was legitimising the actions of some of the people in Mount Vernon, who are hiding, protecting and harbouring Thomas's killers."

But loyalist spokesman Billy Hutchinson, who works on the estate, insisted people had co-operated with police in the murder inquiry.

He said he rejected any suggestion that local people were withholding information.

Sympathy

"The Devlins have had a lot of sympathy from this community," he told the BBC's Nolan Show.

"I assure you it has been worked on - I've met police and they've said they were satisfied they had made a number of enquiries and it was leading nowhere, and they were satisfied that people here did not have information."

Police said forensic examinations of items including dog hair and other physical evidence were being carried out.

They said they wanted to encourage what they called a small group of people who know who killed Thomas to come forward.


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SEE ALSO
Boy's murder 'might be sectarian'
18 Aug 05 |  Northern Ireland
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18 Aug 05 |  Northern Ireland

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