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Saturday, 12 January, 2002, 14:40 GMT
Ahern demands action over killing
Forensic officers at murder scene
Forensic officers examine the scene of the shooting
The Irish Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has called on the Police Service of Northern Ireland to take action following the murder of a postal worker on the outskirts of north Belfast.

He said official figures showed two thirds of attacks are carried out by loyalist groups but only a small number of arrests had been made.

The victim, a 20-year-old Catholic, was shot as he arrived for work at a postal sorting office at about 0445 GMT on Saturday.


There is no reason that he should be targeted just the simple fact that he is a Catholic

Acting Det Supt
Roy Suitters
The loyalist paramilitary group the Red Hand Defenders have said they carried out the murder.

Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid condemned the killing and said people must "confront the struggle between peace and hatred".

"We cannot let those who cling to hate-filled violence cast Northern Ireland back into the darkness," he said.

The first minister and deputy first minister have also condemned the murder.

Speaking at the scene, Acting Detective Superintendent Roy Suitters said the victim had been an easy target.

"This is a tragic event, he said.

Shock

"There is no reason that he should be targeted just the simple fact that he is a Catholic."

The Royal Mail issued a statement saying it was deeply shocked and saddened.

It added that it would do everything possible to support the man's family and his colleagues.

Unions said postal staff at the sorting centre at Mallusk have walked out after hearing about the murder.

Tom Gillen from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions condemned those who carried out the attack

'Disgust'

"It is with total disgust that we have to acknowledge the murder of another innocent worker going about his business.

"He left his home to go about an honest day's work and was murdered by sectarian bigots."

SDLP assembly member Alban Maginness called for a tough response to the attack.

"We in the SDLP met with the security minister during the week to demand a crackdown on the UDA," he said.

"We believe that we were right then and we are right now to call for a crackdown on the UDA because quite clearly they are responsible for this.

"Their vicious sectarian campaign must be brought to an end immediately."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Kevin Connolly
"The victim was the wrong religion in the wrong place"
BBC NI's Malachy McCourt reports:
"The Catholic man worked as a postman in the Whitewell area of north Belfast"
See also:

06 Dec 01 | Northern Ireland
Arrests in teenager's murder case
06 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Trimble apologises over murder claim
05 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Security sources reject Trimble claims
05 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Police renew murder appeal
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