Northern Ireland

Loyalist shootings: Murders of John Devine and John O'Hara re-examined

John Benedict Devine and John Joseph Gerard O'Hara.
Image caption John Joseph Gerard O'Hara (left) and John Benedict Devine (right) were murdered over 20 years ago

Police are to re-examine the loyalist murders of two Catholic workmen more than 20 years ago.

Detectives from the Legacy Investigation Branch (LIB) said they had new information about the shootings.

The two men were John Benedict Devine and John Joseph Gerard O'Hara.

"Both these men were innocent Catholics who were murdered for no other reason than their religion," a police spokesman said.

Both victims were targeted by loyalist gunmen in separate attacks. However, no-one has ever been charged in connection with either murder.

Mr Devine, 37, was shot dead at his home in Fallswater Street, west Belfast, on 23 July 1989.

'Callous murderers'

He was sitting in his living room with his 13-year-old son when three men forced their way in and shot him before escaping in a blue taxi.

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Media captionJohn O'Hara (left) and John Devine (right) were shot dead by loyalists more than 20 years ago

On 17 April 1991, John O'Hara, 41, was shot at Dunluce Avenue, south Belfast.

He was working as a taxi driver and had gone to pick up a passenger at 22:15 BST, when he was approached by two masked men who fired several shots at the car, fatally injuring him.

They ran away down an alleyway off Dunluce Avenue.

A police spokesperson said: "Two families were left devastated; two wives lost their husbands and their children lost their fathers at the hands of callous murderers.

"As a result of information we have recently received, we believe we are now in a position to progress both these investigations, however we need the help of the public."

Police want anyone who was in the area at the time of either shooting or who has information about the activities of loyalists in the area in the late 80s and early 90s to come forward.

The LIB took over from the Historical Enquiries Team at the start of this year after the HET was closed down.

It had been set up in 2005 as a special investigative unit attached to the PSNI to re-examine the deaths of 3,260 people in Northern Ireland between 1968 and 1998.

The LIB will operate until a new Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) begins its work.

A decision to set up the HIU was agreed under the Stormont House Agreement in December 2014..

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