Police find motorcycle in hunt for Cummings killers

Detectives investigating the murder of Catholic teenager Ciaran Cummings were today examining a black motorcycle they found during a search of a garage on the loyalist Ballycraigy Estate in Antrim.

Detectives investigating the murder of Catholic teenager Ciaran Cummings were today examining a black motorcycle they found during a search of a garage on the loyalist Ballycraigy Estate in Antrim.

They also found two replica firearms, balaclavas and combat-style clothing.

The 19-year-old was gunned down by the pillion passenger on a black motorcycle as he waited for a lift to work early on Wednesday.

The murder was claimed by dissident loyalist group the Red Hand Defenders.

Police sources say that at this stage they are merely investigating a possible link between the motorcycle found last night and the one used in the killing.

Earlier last night, the senior detective rejected claims from Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble that republicans were behind the murder of the teenager.

Detective Superintendent John Brannigan, who is leading the inquiry into the murder, said: ‘‘There is presently no information to suggest that republicans were involved in the murder of Ciaran Cummings.’’

Mr Trimble incurred the wrath of nationalists when he suggested the shooting of Mr Cummings could be linked to drugs.

The teenager’s family is said to be devastated by Mr Trimble’s remarks.

Sinn Fein described the allegation as ‘‘completely unsubstantiated’’ and said it was ‘‘clearly a sectarian killing’’.

Sinn Fein Antrim councillor Martin Meehan said: ‘‘Everybody knows that this young man was killed by elements within Mr Trimble’s own community for no other reason than he was a Catholic.’’

SDLP Assembly member for the area Donovan McClelland branded Mr Trimble’s comments a ‘‘disgrace’’.

‘‘I know Ciaran and his group of friends and can honestly say he was not involved in any drug-related activity as was inferred by Mr Trimble.

‘‘His remarks are an absolute disgrace and have caused terrible hurt and upset for his family.’’

Security sources confirmed that Mr Cummings had a number of minor convictions, but none was drug-related.

Mr Trimble said a number of murders of Catholics over the past few months had been carried out by republicans.

‘‘I know that Wednesday’s statement came from one of these dissident loyalist groups, but there is good reason to suspect that republicans were behind the Antrim murder.

‘‘It goes back to drugs, a number of the various forms of racketeering. A number of murders of Catholics by republicans have been of people who have not been sharing the profits of their business with republicans the way they feel they ought to.’’

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