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Thursday, 13 July, 2000, 10:49 GMT 11:49 UK
Fresh appeal after bonfire murder

Flowers are placed at the scene of the murder
Detectives investigating the murder of a man shot at a loyalist bonfire celebration have issued a fresh appeal for information.

Andrew Cairns, 22, was shot in Larne, just after midnight on Tuesday.

The police have said they believe about 300 people were at the bonfire event, held to mark the eve of the Twelfth of July, the most important date in the Protestant marching calendar.

Security and loyalist sources have said Mr Cairns was linked to the loyalist paramilitaries.

The police have appealed to anyone who was in the vicinity of the Old Glenarm Road between Tuesday night and the early hours of Wednesday morning to contact them.

Mr Cairns was killed during a night of loyalist violence linked to the Protestant Orange Order's Drumcree marching dispute.

Sources said he had links with the paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force, and it appears the killing could have been the result of a dispute with the rival loyalist group, the Ulster Defence Association.

The murder came as Protestants lit bonfires across Northern Ireland on the eve of the "Twelfth," the day they traditionally celebrate victory at the Battle of the Boyne.

Thousands of Orangemen, involving 1,500 lodges, marched to rallies across the province to celebrate the anniversary of the 1690 defeat of Catholic King James by Protestant Prince William of Orange.

The police have said the murder was not sectarian.
George Montgomery
George Montgomery: "Up to 12 involved in attack"

RUC detective inspector George Montgomery told the BBC that up to 12 people were involved in the attack.

He said the victim was kicked and punched, and then shot in the head when he was lying on the ground and died at the scene.

The police officer confirmed that an internal loyalist link to the shooting was one line of inquiry being pursued by the police.

Police are also investigating suggestions that a row took place in a local club before the shooting, which was carried out near a children's play park.

However, no definite motive for the shooting has been established.

When police first arrived at the scene of the killing, they were hindered by a large crowd, and officers in riot gear were called in.
David Ervine
David Ervine: "Stunned by attack"

Democratic Unionist Party councillor Jack McKee was at the bonfire and heard shots.

"A man was murdered in our midst within sight of hundreds of people," he said.

"People were standing all around in their hundreds, although it was dark about ten past twelve apart from the glow of the fire."

David Ervine of the Progressive Unionist Party, which has links with the UVF, said it was a tragedy that a "a 22-year-old boy lying on a slab when his first and only desire was to go and celebrate his culture".

However, Mr Ervine said his understanding was that there was no feud between the loyalist factions.

There were a number of other violent incidents during the night, with two people injured in stabbings in East Belfast, and shots and a blast bomb fired at the security forces in Belfast and Portadown.

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See also:

12 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Marching season reaches peak
11 Jul 00 | UK
Curse of the anniversary?
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Q & A: Drumcree protests
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Trimble rejects assembly recall
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Picture gallery: Loyalist protests
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Sites of Orange protests
11 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
RUC chief appeals for support
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