04 February 2006

Families' feud link to stab death


Gerard Devlin had been attacked before

A west Belfast father-of-five has been stabbed to death as he picked up his children for the weekend.

Gerard Devlin's death is being treated as murder by police. Two other men, both related to Mr Devlin, are being treated in hospital.

The fight involving several men at Whitecliffe Parade at about 1600 GMT is being linked to an ongoing feud between two families in the Ballymurphy area.

Mr Devlin had recently left the area because of the feud.

Mr Devlin's aunt, Bernadette O'Rawe, told the BBC that he had only returned to the area for 15 minutes to collect his children.

"He was making a new life for himself - he had moved out of the district. He came in tonight to take his kids out," he said.

The atmosphere remained tense in the area on Friday evening

Mr Devlin had been attacked a number of times before, including one assault when his throat was cut.

The atmosphere in the area remained tense on Friday evening, with some scuffles close to the police cordon.

A police spokesman said there was "nothing to suggest paramilitary involvement".

"The PSNI are appealing for support from the west Belfast community to help us gather the vital information we need to find the person responsible for this tragic incident," he added.

Sinn Fein assembly member Michael Ferguson said it had been a long-running feud.

"The Community Safety Network in the area, for its part, had worked with both families, and four days ago got an agreement that three people would leave," he said.

"Mr Devlin left and came back tonight to pick up his children, and he's now dead."

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