Prominent republican shot dead in Belfast
Tommy Crossan, former leading member of Continuity IRA killed on Springfield Road
General file view of area near Peter Pan indstrial estate, Springfield Road, Belfast. Image: Google Street View
A former leading member of the Continuity IRA, named locally tonight as Tommy Crossan, was shot dead in a fuel depot on the Springfield Road in west Belfast this evening.
The road was busy and children were playing in the area when Mr Crossan, who previously had faced death threats from ex-dissident republican colleagues, was attacked around 5.15 pm.
It is believed that Mr Crossan (43), a father of four children and originally from the Falls Road in west Belfast, was shot up to seven times.
“He was shot in such a way that there could be no doubt that he would not survive,” said one person at the scene.
A red BMW believed to have been used in the attack was found a short time later burnt out in Beechmount Grove close to the scene of the shooting. It is believed a gang of three men were involved.
The murdered man’s daughter arrived at the scene shortly after the shooting while more family members arrived soon after. Police quickly moved into the area with a PSNI helicopter hovering above.
A heavy police presence remained on the Springfield Road as forensic tests were carried out at the fuel depot which is located in the mainly derelict Peter Pan industrial estate.
Local priest Fr Tony Devlin attended to Mr Crossan and performed the last rites. The rector of nearby Clonard monastery, Fr Michael Murtagh also arrived soon after the shooting. “It is a terrible thing that something like this should happen on Good Friday. My heart goes out to the family of the dead man,” he said.
Three years ago Mr Crossan was involved in a split in the Continuity IRA where he was a senior Belfast commander. He was accused of stealing money from the organisation and also of acting as a British agent or informer. He was ordered to leave Belfast or face being shot. He insisted he was not a “tout” and that he had no intention of leaving the city.
The Sinn Féin Belfast lord mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir in condemning the attack said, “Shame on those who bring death to Belfast streets at Eastertide. They represent no-one but themselves and have no place in our great city.”
Local SDLP councillor Colin Keenan said: “We have long hoped that the shadow of death had been lifted from west Belfast. This is a terrible, tragic reminder of the violent conflict of the past,” he said.
West Belfast SDLP Assembly member Alex Attwood said the killing brought back a “sense of the past” to an area of Belfast which had witnessed many such shootings and killings during the Troubles.
The Alliance Minister of Justice David Ford in condemning the shooting and offering his sympathy to Mr Crossan’s family said “those responsible for this cowardly act will be pursued by the authorities”.
Sinn Féin MLA Jennifer McCann said the killers “had no consideration for anyone in this community except themselves and their own criminal agenda”.