Tributes paid to two men murdered in Sligo as gardaí investigate potential hate crime

Tributes have been paid to Michael Snee and Aidan Moffitt, the two men murdered in Sligo this week as gardaí continue to investigate both killings as potential hate crimes.

Gardaí in Sligo said the two men were "well known and respected in this community", and members of the Irish Government have offered their sympathies to their loved ones.

Michael Snee, 58 and from Sligo, was found dead at a private residence in the Connaughton Road area of the town shortly after 10.30pm on Tuesday.

It was the second murder in the town this week after Mr Moffitt, 42, was found dead on Monday evening.

Both men were physically assaulted and had suffered serious injuries in the lead up to their murders.

Gardaí are investigating whether there is a potential hate crime motive in both cases, as well as if both men had met their attacker online.

Irish Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD branded the murders "atrocious crimes" and offered her sympathies to the victims' families.

She also extended her thoughts to members of the LGBT community, acknowledging this has "been a difficult week", after reports of a number of homophobic attacks in Ireland.

Ms McEntee announced her hopes to introduce a hate crime bill to the Daíl "in a number of weeks to respond".

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar added: "What happened is unspeakable and hard to fathom."

Taoiseach Micheál Martin urged anyone with information to contact gardaí.

Gardaí have meanwhile urged people to "be aware of the personal safety advice" when meeting up with people who one has first met online.

Chief Superintendent Aidan Glacken of Sligo Garda Station also reiterated his force's commitment to tackling hate crimes, and asked members of the public who encounter such crimes to contact gardaí "no matter how insignificant you think it may be".