Kieran Doherty, father of a two-year-old girl, was killed outside Derry last Wednesday evening.  The priest who was to oversee Doherty’s marriage ceremony in June has spoken of the family’s anguish at his death.

“Kieran and his fiancée Mairéad were full of excitement about their forthcoming wedding,” Fr Roland Colhoun told the Irish Times. “A lot of preparation goes into a matrimonial ceremony, now we are preparing for a requiem ceremony."

According to the Real IRA, Doherty, who was a member of their organization, had gotten involved with a criminal gang that had links to the drugs trade. Last Wednesday he was found naked and bound, with gun-shot wounds in his head and chest, the Irish Times reported.

The Real IRA issued a statement saying Doherty “was a senior member of our organisation who was executed because he became involved with a criminal gang with links to the drugs trade. He knew the risks involved in what he was doing."

Yet for those left behind, Doherty’s death is an unexpected tragedy. “I spent all day yesterday comforting the family,” Fr Colhoun said. “I spoke to the entire extended family which includes 52 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren.

“The sheer trauma of what has happened is just too much for many of them,” the priest added. “There is such grief, tears, questions and anguish and it is a terribly onerous task to try to console them.”

Doherty's body was being examined in a post-mortem last Thursday. He was 31 years old. His murder underlines the continuing threat posed by dissident groups in the North.

Real IRA graffito