Killing of ex-IRA man Kevin McGuigan ‘ruthless’ - PSNI

53-year-old killed outside his home four months after Gerard Davison murdered

 

Serious crime branch detectives investigating the murder of former Provisional IRA member Kevin McGuigan snr in east Belfast have described his killing as “ruthless and premeditated”.

PSNI Det Chief Insp John McVea explained the 53-year-old was shot in the head and chest at point blank range as he got out of his car in Comber Court, in the nationalist Short Strand area of east Belfast, on Wednesday, just before 9pm.

Mr McGuigan’s wife Dolores witnessed the attack outside their home, carried out by two masked men, who fled the scene on foot.

The father-of-nine was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital but was confirmed dead a short time later.

Det Chief Insp McVea said it would be “reckless to speculate” on possible Provisional IRA involvement in Mr McGuigan’s murder.

‘Some solace’

On Thursday, the officer said he wanted to bring the McGuigan family “some solace by finding the people responsible for this brutal crime”, and appealed for help from the public.

“We believe both suspects had their faces covered and were wearing dark clothing,” he said. “And one was taller than the other. “We need to hear from anyone who was in the area last night who might be able to provide us with vital clues about the gunmen, both leading up to and immediately after the shooting.”

Rumours have been circulating that Mr McGuigan was a chief suspect in the murder of former IRA man Gerard “Jock” Davison in May, but Det Chief Insp McVea said he was interviewed “as a potential witness as opposed to a potential suspect”.

‘Speculation not helpful’

“At this point in time, that remains the position,” he said. “Speculation is not helpful and is potentially dangerous.

“People should allow the police investigation to take its course and provide any information they have to detectives.

“I would also appeal to those with influence in the community to use all their efforts to reduce tension and appeal for calm and restraint at this very difficult time.”

He added: “Those that have that belief that Kevin was involved in ‘Jock’ Davison’s murder - anyone who can link them should contact detectives at Musgrave Street and tell us why they believe so and produce evidence to back up that claim.”

Gerard “Jock” Davison (47) was shot dead in the Welsh Street area of south Belfast as he was walking to work in May.

Mr Davison and Mr McGuigan were said to be key gunmen in an IRA front organisation called Direct Action Against Drugs during the 1990s. They were later said to have been involved in a dispute.

First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson has said there will be repercussions if it is found the Provisional IRA was involved in the murder.

The DUP has raised a series of questions with the PSNI over the murder and TUV leader Jim Allister said there must be no “cover-up”.

Sinn Féin councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile and his party colleague Alex Maskey MLA said the Short Strand community was angered and hurt by the killing, and that Mr McGuigan’s grieving family are devastated.

“I have no concerns about any IRA involvement in this whatsoever,” Mr Maskey added. “I am concerned about unhelpful speculation.”

Armed groups ‘rejected’

Mr Ó Donnghaile, from Short Strand, described the murder as “horrific”. “Any kind of armed actions and armed groups are very, very firmly rejected by the community in Short Strand,” he added. “People don’t want them near them.”

It is understood McGuigan was injured in a paramilitary punishment style attack a number of years ago.

Security and republican sources pointed at former members of the Provisional IRA as being responsible for targeting McGuigan.

Davison is also accused of giving the order to attack Belfast man Robert McCartney that resulted in the fork lift truck driver’s death outside a city centre bar a decade ago.

Some of the men Davison ordered the deaths of were killed by McGuigan.

Mr Robinson said there “can be no justification for such actions” as this latest killing.

“This was a brutal murder carried out in a residential area. Whatever the circumstances there can be no justification for such actions.

“Terrorism was always wrong and must be condemned. I know that the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland do not want to see this kind of activity back on our streets. I would hope that those responsible can be quickly identified and brought to justice.”

South Belfast SDLP MP Alasdair McDonnell condemned those responsible for the shooting.

“This was a brutal and terrible crime in Belfast and I utterly condemn those behind it,” he said.

“The perpetrator must be held to account for bringing this level of inhumanity and savagery back to our streets.In just two days a bomb has exploded near a children’s playing field in Derry and a man has been murdered in east Belfast. We must stand against those who would seek to drag us all back to the ways of the past.

“I urge anyone with information about either of these actions to go to the police,” he said.

A significant police presence remained in the Short Strand last night in the wake of the shooting.

A special incident room has been set up by detectives at Musgrave police station.

Anyone with information can contact police on the non-emergency number 101.

Alternatively, people can provide information anonymously by calling the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Additional reporting: agencies