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Slain RIRA leader to be buried from Cliftonville

By Evan Short

The funeral of slain RIRA leader Declan Smith is to take place from his family home on the Cliftonville Road this weekend, two weeks after he was gunned down in North Dublin.

At the time of his death Smith, 31, was wanted for questioning by the PSNI over the deaths of fellow dissident republicans Joe Jones and Eddie Burns who were brutally murdered in 2007 during a dissident republican feud.

Smith, who was said to be the Continuity IRA’s Belfast leader at the time, fled to Dublin in the wake of the killings where he had lived ever since.

His remains will return to Belfast this afternoon (Thursday, April 3) ahead of his funeral in Our Lady’s Church, Deanby, on Saturday morning.

After moving to Dublin, Smith rose to prominence first with the Continuity IRA, and then as a member of the RIRA. A close confident of Dublin dissident Alan Ryan, who himself was murdered in 2012, it is understood he had fallen foul of his former associates and was treated for a gunshot wound to the leg in January after an apparent punishment shooting.

He was heavily involved in the extortion of drug dealers in the capital and it is thought this is what led to his murder outside a nursery school in North Dublin on Friday, March 21, where he was leaving his son off.

A lone gunman blasted him with a shotgun before making his escape. There have been no arrests.

The murders of Joe Jones and Eddie Burns on March 12, 2007, were some of the most brutal attacks in the history of the conflict.

Ardoyne man Eddie Burns was abducted and shot dead by a CIRA gang close to the Falls Road while Joe Jones was lured to Elmfield Street in Ardoyne on the same night where he was badly beaten before being killed with a spade and his body dumped in an entry.

The gang were captured on CCTV drinking heavily and taking drugs in bars across the west of the city hours before the murders.

Jones and Burns had quit the CIRA to form their own organisation, and were murdered in a row over money and weapons.

One man, Gerard Mackin, was convicted of the murder of Eddie Burns in 2009 but later released when the Dublin Court of Criminal Appeal quashed his conviction.

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