Northern Ireland police arrest man for killing 26-year-old woman in 1991

A man from the Cork region was arrested Friday for the murder of a 26-year-old political activist in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1991.

Detectives have served 74 search warrants and searched 14 properties in Cork, Waterford and Wexford in relation to the killing of Joanne Duffy, a Sinn Fein councillor and campaign organizer from Belfast who was shot dead shortly after a rally on Sept. 11, 1991.

“As police investigations move forward into the murder of Joanne Duffy 20 years ago, she and her family are reassured that all necessary steps are being taken by police,” said Detective Chief Inspector Justin McNulty.

“If and when the murder is brought to justice then they will finally be able to grieve the loss of their daughter and sister.”

Despite the arrests, little information about the background of the accused has emerged.

Police say they have charged Lucian Cooley, a 55-year-old man from Cork, with Duffy’s murder, but that no more details about his role have been made public.

McNulty said Cooley is co-operating with the investigation and is due to appear in court on Dec. 25.

Two other men were arrested on Thursday and Thursday of last week, but one of them is now not in custody.

McNulty thanked the community for its co-operation and support.

“Our investigations are ongoing and we continue to appeal for anyone with information that may assist our inquiries to contact us on 101 or speak to our major investigation team on 0800-6667800,” he said.

Joanne Duffy was shot dead when she opened the door of her apartment in the Heenan Street area of Belfast in front of a group of men after campaigning to stop the demolition of a nationalist neighborhood housing block. The killing raised fears of a political backlash.

Two months after Duffy’s murder, 11 people, including two men and a woman who were suspected of involvement, were arrested for breaking into a nationalist Catholic home and murdering a man with a hammer. They were found not guilty of murdering a neighbor earlier, after a bitter trial.

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