IRA Shankill bomber Sean Kelly leaves prison with Eddie Copeland

IRA Shankill bomber Sean Kelly leaves prison with Eddie Copeland

THE DUP and Sinn Fein have locked horns over the arrest of convicted IRA Shankill bomber Sean Kelly.

The 39-year-old was being questioned about the shooting of a teenager on Tuesday night in north Belfast.

However, on Thursday afternoon Kelly was released without charged by police.

On Thursday morning, police said they didn’t believe the shooting was paramilitary related, with indications the attack may have been the result of a “personal vendetta”.

However, following Kelly’s release, the PSNI said detectives were now treating it as a “paramilitary-related shooting”.

The gun attack raises political questions as to how a hand gun was obtained and used given that the IRA has disarmed.

DUP deputy leader and north Belfast MP Nigel Dodds has called for Secretary of State Theresa Villiers to review Kelly’s early release status.

He added: “People such as Sean Kelly should never have been released from prison in the first place, and all those who supported such measures in 1998 bear a heavy responsibility.”

DUP First minister Peter Robinson says the arrest of the man convicted of the IRA Shankill bomb could have “grave consequences” for the political process.

However, deputy first minister Martin McGuinness said he didn’t believe the shooting threatened the peace process and urged the DUP leadership to “hold their nerve”.

In a statement on Thursday, Mr Robinson said he has called for a meeting with the PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott

He wants to know how police are able to say that the shooting is not linked to paramilitaries.

The DUP leader also wants to establish the background of the case.

The victim was shot a number of times in the thigh and buttock and was critically ill in the Royal Victoria Hospital for a time, but is now said to be stable.

“The family of the man who has been shot has indicated the involvement of those associated with Sinn Féin in this attack,” DUP First Minister Peter Robinson said.

“This connection raises potentially grave consequences for the process and we will want to meet with the Chief Constable to establish the background of this case and how the police are able to conclude that it is not paramilitary linked.

DUP leader Peter Robinson wants to meet Chief Constable over shooting

DUP leader Peter Robinson wants to meet Chief Constable over shooting

“We will be monitoring very closely the facts of this case as they arise, and the Sinn Fein response to them.”

Deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness said said it was “frankly ridiculous” to say it should threaten the political process.

“The violence related to extreme loyalist protests in recent weeks represented a serious challenge to the political process. We in Sinn Féin kept our nerve.

“The assertion that this shooting in North Belfast, which I unreservedly condemn, and the facts of which are at this stage under PSNI investigation and are unclear, should threaten the political process, is frankly ridiculous.

“The DUP should keep their nerve, said the Sinn Fein leader.

The 18 year old was shot in both legs in Ardoyne on Tuesday night and was critically ill but is now in a stable condition in hospital.

The shooting was originally reported to be a paramilitary-style attack.

However, a police spokesman said that following inquiries, it is no longer being treated as such, but rather as a shooting.

This changed after Kelly’s released when the police said it was now a paramilitary related shooting.

During Thursday morning’s BBC NI’s Nolan Show, the teenager’s mother said she was “disgusted” at the shooting of her son.

She said he had been in the operating theatre for 10 hours and had been placed on a ventilator, but was now off it.

“The doctors say he was very lucky that he got to hospital when he did. He had lost a lot of blood,” she said.

“I thought he was dead,” she added, calling those who carried out the shooting “dirty rotten scumbags”.

“He served his time. He was months in jail for the rioting then they have the cheek to go and shoot him. It is not their place, they are not judge and jury.

“People like that need locked up and put down. So much for the ceasefire. They are shooting their own people.”

Sean Kelly was convicted of the 1993 IRA bombing of a Shankill Road fish shop in which nine civilians died. He was given nine life sentences for his role in the bombing, but was released in July 2000 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Sean Kelly held over shooting in north Belfast

Sean Kelly held over shooting in north Belfast

In July his licence was revoked by the then secretary of state for Northern Ireland, Peter Hain. There was evidence, said Mr Hain, that Sean Kelly had become “re-involved in terrorism”.

Ten days later, Kelly was released on the orders of Mr Hain, a move strongly condemned by unionists.

The release was ordered on the eve of a statement by the IRA.

At the time, Mr Hain said the IRA statement “created a new situation and thereby changed the context of my original decision to suspend Sean Kelly’s licence”.

“The government accepts that the statement by the IRA is intended to express an end to paramilitary activity and criminality,” he said.






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