Ardoyne baby death: Victim named as Liam O’Keefe

A baby boy who was killed at a house in Ardoyne, north Belfast, was Liam O’Keefe, police have said.

They said a 29-year-old woman who was arrested on suspicion of his murder at a house in Brompton Park on Tuesday has been released from hospital.

She has been transferred to police custody for questioning.

Police said a second child found injured in the same house remained in hospital and said “her condition is described as stable”.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) thanked the local community “for their unwavering support and patience while we continue our investigation into the tragic events of Tuesday evening”.

Earlier, a former Ardoyne parish priest said the incident had caused “total shock” in the area.

Fr Gary Donegan said the close-knit community appeared to be “completely overwhelmed” by the baby’s death.

Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme, he said he had been “inundated with phone calls and messages” since the news broke on Tuesday evening and had been trying to offer “support and solidarity” to local residents.

“As you know, it’s an area that has been synonymous with suffering and pain down through the years, but this was something different – this was nothing to do with the Troubles.

“This was something that…people found it hard to believe was happening in Ardoyne, such a closely knit and tight community,” he said.

“When it came to their own doorstep, people just seemed to be completely overwhelmed.”

The priest worked in Ardoyne’s Holy Cross Parish for 15 years until moving to Crossgar, County Down in 2016.

He still regularly works in Ardoyne in his role as director of the Passionist Peace and Reconciliation Office on the Crumlin Road and has retained his close ties with the local community.

“They are a very proud and resilient people, and one of their strengths is the more adversity that sometimes comes their way, the more they rise up to it,” he said.

“But this particular incident, for me, has seen a different kind of response and it’s a case now of just trying to be with people, journey with people.”

Fr Donegan said Mass in Holy Cross Church on the morning after the incident and paused to say a prayer as he drove past the Brompton Park house.

“What was so evident was the stillness, the lack of people around,” he said.

“It was almost like they were cowered by the awfulness of what had actually happened.”

He added that there was a sombre, quiet mood among staff and customers in local shops.

“People found it even hard to comment on it.”

Police were called to the house at Brompton Park shortly after 20:00 BST on Tuesday and found the two injured children.

The baby was pronounced dead at the scene and the second child was taken to hospital by ambulance.

A post-mortem examination of the baby is expected to take place on Thursday.

‘Traumatised neighbours’

Local residents have been leaving flowers, teddy bears and personal tributes at the gates of the house.

They included a woman who told Good Morning Ulster many neighbours had been “traumatised,” including her 10-year-old son who witnessed some of the “aftermath” of the incident.

“I was very upset…I was just shocked,” the boy said.

He asked to accompany his mother to the gates to lay flowers for the family.

“We’ve never experienced a tragedy like this,” his mother said, but she added that her neighbours would rally round to help.

“When things occur and tragedies appear, you see the kindness, the goodness and the solidarity within this community,” she said.

“Obviously in the past when we’ve gone through so much together, people forget their own problems, forget their own troubles and we step up to look after the families involved in this tragedy and each other – that’s how tight this community would be.”

 

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