Statement | 

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar says he is 'shocked and worried' by recent Sligo murders

Mr Varadkar told RTÉ News that he wanted to say "some words about what’s happening in Sligo"

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar (Damien Storan/PA)

Paul Hyland

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said he is “shocked" and “worried” by the two deaths which occurred in Sligo in recent days.

Speaking this morning, Mr Varadkar said he has spoken to Fine Gael members in Sligo who knew Roscommon native Aidan Moffitt who was murdered at his home on Monday.

Mr Moffitt (41) served as the Fine Gael branch secretary and branch chairperson.

The body of second man, aged in his 50s, was found at an apartment in Sligo last night and Gardaí have arrested a man aged in his 20s on "suspicion of murder".

Mr Varadkar told RTÉ News that he wanted to say “some words about what’s happening in Sligo and the death of Aidan Moffitt who’s a member of the party and a branch secretary and a branch chairperson.

“I just really wanted to say, I’ve been speaking to some of our members in Sligo last night, and I just really wanted to say how shocked and how worried I am actually by the two murders that appeared to have occurred in Sligo over the last couple of days."

His comments come as a close friend of murdered Sligo-based businessman Aidan Moffitt (41) has said the words “hate” and “Aidan” do not belong in the same sentence.

Aidan Moffitt

Blain Gaffney described the killing of his “honest”, “positive” and “caring” friend as “just horrific”.

Mr Gaffney said he and Aidan Moffitt had been “very close” since 2016 and Mr Moffitt previously worked as his campaign manager when he ran for local election several years ago.

Mr Gaffney said Aidan Moffitt had a keen understanding of politics and was a “very strategic” campaigner.

Aidan Moffitt worked in personal finance, including property sales, and his friend said he was “very smart in terms of finance and investments”.

Mr Gaffney said Aidan Moffitt was “dignified” and the way he died was the polar opposite of that.

“It’s hard to believe what happened, and I’d be looking to speak about Aidan as the positive person he was, and remember Aidan for who he was and not what happened to him,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme.

“He was very, very intelligent, a very honest, caring person who… he was just an all-around good guy.

“He was a very caring person, very dignified and what happened wasn’t any way dignified and it’s just horrific.”

Aidan Moffitt had recently returned home from a holiday in Spain and Mr Gaffney said while he was there, Aidan befriended a person, and the pair took a “spin” to Alicante together.

Mr Gaffeny said: “That was the type of man. He met somebody, had a bit of fun and went down to help them test out their jeep.

“That was Aidan. From what I could see, he had a really nice time.”

Aidan Moffitt’s body was discovered at his home, at Cartron Heights, Sligo town, on Monday at 8.30pm.

Gardaí believe he was the victim of a hate crime motivated by homophobia.

Mr Moffitt, a peace commissioner, suffered horrific injuries and was badly mutilated during an attack which has stunned the community in Sligo and his native west Roscommon.

The scene of a second murder in Sligo last night at City View, Connaughton Road. Pic: Donal Hackett.

On hearing the news of Aidan’s death, Mr Gaffney said the “horrendous” details and potential hate related motive behind his murder is “quite chilling”.

“It’s quite scary. I know there’s been talks about a lot of things that have happened in Sligo over the last four days, but this particular thing would be really, really scary,” he said.

“That somebody so dignified could be treated so undignified and to think that a hate related thing, you never say the words hate and Aidan.

“He lit up the world. He had this really infectious smile, really infectious manner. A caring, kind person, and to think that something to do with hate or a hate crime could be even in the same sentence as his name, is just too hard to comprehend.”

Mr Gaffney added that a “lot of people in Sligo are very scared” regarding the incidents which have unfolded in recent days, including the discovery of another man’s body at an apartment in the town last night.

“The whole place is in shock,” he said.

Gardaí have appealed for anyone who has any information about either incident to contact them in confidence.

It comes as gardaí have arrested a man on suspicion of murder after the body of a man was found in an apartment in Sligo town.

Officers were called to an apartment on Connaughton Road at about 10.30pm on Tuesday, where the body of a male in his late 50s was found.

"The male had received significant physical injuries,” gardaí said.

After what was described as an “intense” operation, gardaí including the Armed Support Unit arrested a man in his early 20s in Sligo Town on suspicion of murder and he is being held for questioning.

This scene remains preserved and the Garda Technical Bureau will conduct technical and forensic examinations at the apartment.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Helen McEntee said today: "I have spoken to the Garda Commissioner about the shocking events in Sligo. An Garda Síochána will investigate these appalling crimes and ensure justice is done. They will support the people of Sligo and I urge anyone with information to report it to Gardaí.

"I would also like to express my deepest sympathies to the friends and family of Aidan Moffitt, and to the friends and family of the man who was also killed last night. They are in our thoughts today."

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