Ireland: Eight murdered since Christmas, but the families still speak for peace

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The gunmen of Belfast may not understand the reality of grief; the families of the victims do. Two loyalist activists and six uninvolved Catholics have died since Christmas, and in each case their family has registered the hope that no one else should undergo such an experience.

27 December: Billy Wright, founder of the Loyalist Volunteer Force, was shot dead by the INLA inside the Maze prison, where he was serving an eight-year sentence. Security sources say he was involved in more than a dozen killings.

His father, David Wright, said of revenge killings: "They're abhorrent, abhorrent, abhorrent. I've no hesitation in saying that: they're abhorrent. I don't believe in any kind of loss of life."

27 December: Seamus Dillon was killed on the same night. A 46- year-old Catholic, with three children, he died when LVF gunmen opened fire on doormen at a Co Tyrone disco. He had served a life sentence for his part in two IRA murders in the 1970s, but was said to have severed all paramilitary links. His brother, Rodger, said the family pardoned his killers: "There is no sectarian hatred in our family ... We want the peace process to work for justice, equality and the end to discrimination."

31 December: Edmund Treanor, who was shot on New Year's Eve, was 31 and engaged to be married. UDA gunmen opened fire on a north Belfast Catholic bar. At his funeral a Catholic bishop appealed to politicians: "Do not dispirit us with any further petty shows of rancour, bitterness and ill-temper."

Treanor's family said: "Edmund was an innocent victim ... who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The family want it known that they do not want retaliation."

11 January: Terry Enright, a Catholic, was killed when LVF gunmen opened fire at doormen at a Belfast disco. A 28-year-old father of two, he was married to a niece of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams. A loyalist leader who knew him described him as "a fine and reputable young man".

His wife Deirdre said: "I would like to say to the gutless cowards who gunned him down that they murdered someone who was very special. Unlike them, Terry was working tirelessly to bring about peace."

18 January: A Catholic man, Fergal McCusker, was shot by the LVF in the early hours of Sunday morning in Maghera, Co Londonderry.

McCusker, a 28-year-old single man, the eldest of nine children, had just returned home from the United States.

His father, Jim, said: "He was shot down because he was a Catholic and because he played GAA [Gaelic football] and he was wearing a GAA jersey. For anyone to be killed it's very sad. It's heart-breaking that it had to be our Fergal."

19 January: Protestant Jim Guiney was shot dead by INLA gunmen in his Belfast shop. A married man with four children, he had links with the paramilitary Ulster Defence Association in south Belfast.

His cousin, Freddie Parkinson, said he was targeted because he was a Protestant, a loyalist and an easy target. He added: "Retaliation cannot be justified in any circumstances."

19 January: Larry Brennan, a 52-year-old taxi-driver, was shot dead on the same evening by gunmen from the South Belfast UDA. A Catholic, he was engaged to a Protestant woman.

His sister, Eilish O'Reilly, said: "I don't want anybody to take anybody's life in the name of my brother. All this has to stop. I know sometimes when you say this people don't listen, but nobody is to take any reprisals in the name of my brother."

21 January: Ben Hughes, a 55-year-old Catholic grandfather who was the father of three grown-up children, he was shot by the South Belfast UDA as he left the DIY motor shop where he had worked for almost 30 years.

His brother Frank said: "The family is devastated, destroyed. This is totally and utterly senseless. Can they not see? This tit-for-tat carry- on is just stupid and silly. Where does it get us? It doesn't do anyone any good."