An 18-year-old Protestant man from Glengormley was shot to death by loyalists in front of his father recently – because his killers believed he was a Catholic. The murder of young Gavin Brett in front of his friends and family sent shockwaves through both sectors of the community.
The loyalist paramilitary group known as The Red Hand Defenders, which is believed to be a cover for the Ulster Defense Association (UDA), claimed responsibility for the murder. The Alliance Party called on Northern Secretary John Reid to recognize that the UDA had abandoned its ceasefire.
Gavin Brett’s father, Michael, a paramedic, tried desperately to revive his son at the scene of his death. He later described his son as very outgoing, with friends in both sectors of the community. “There wasn’t one bigoted bone in his body and basically bigots took his life away,” said Mr. Brett. “I’m very, very proud of my son. Apart from being his dad, he was my mate, my chum.”
Of his son’s killers, Mr. Brett said, “God forgive them – at present I’m finding it difficult to.” Following the young man’s murder, hundreds of people in the community gathered for a candlelit vigil in his memory. Parish priest Fr. Dan Whyte addressed the crowd. “The gunmen have nothing to offer anybody,” he said, “They are all losers – much more so than we apparently are.”
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin has released a report claiming that more than 180 sectarian attacks have been carded out by loyalists to date this year. The party has blamed the UDA for the attacks and said that group’s ceasefire is clearly over. At press time we received a report that the office of Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, was the target of a pipebomb which, fortunately, didn’t explode. ♦