Police do not know motivation for murder of Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison
Former IRA commander was shot a ‘number of times’ as children were going to school
Forensic officers in Welsh Street, in the Markets area near Belfast city centre following the fatal shooting of Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison, a former IRA commander. Photograph: PA Wire
Sinn Féin MLAs Alex Maskey (left) and Máirtín Ó Muilleoir in the Markets area near Belfast city centre following the fatal shooting of Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison. Photograph: PA
Gerard Davidson, who was shot dead in the markets area of Belfast this morning. Photograph: Pacemaker
Police don’t know what the motivation was for the “cold-blooded murder carried out in broad daylight” of Gerard “Jock” Davison in the Markets area in central Belfast.
He was implicated in the murder of Robert McCartney 10 years ago, but as Det Chief Insp Justyn Galloway noted, that was in the past.
Det Chief Insp Galloway, who is heading the murder investigation, did not disclose how many men were involved, whether they were masked, how they quit the scene or whether the victim had any particular enemies or faced any death threats.
He said 47-year-old former IRA commander Davison was shot a “number of times” about 9am when there were children going to school and adults going to work.
One local source said he was told two men were involved in the killing, that they “coolly” walked up to their victim, shooting him in the head, and then quite calmly left the scene “as if this was something they had done before”.
It was a bit like the very bad old times in the Markets, a man lying dead on the street and local people reluctant to say anything. “Do I want to comment? The IRA, f**k no, there’d be trouble,” said one man as he surveyed the murder scene at Welsh Street.
Concealed behind a police tent lay the body of Davison. Outside, officers in white forensic boiler suits examined the scene while detectives made house-to-house inquiries.
A woman walking by said she also did not want to comment, although did say: “All I can say is that he was a decent man, he didn’t deserve that.”
It was clear, however, that while most were prepared to be generous, Davison had some enemies.
One senior security source said that so far the investigation was proving “tricky” and that it could be a “long-haul investigation”.
It was interesting that Det Chief Insp Galloway was prepared to more or less rule out suspects who would immediately come to mind.
“I do not believe it is sectarian,” he said, indicating that loyalist paramilitaries were not in the frame.
“And I do not believe dissident republicans have been involved. However, we will keep an open mind as information comes into the inquiry.
“Many people in Northern Ireland have a past, but that is in the past and there is no justification for the gunning down of this community worker.”
Det Chief Insp Galloway added: “We are not ruling anything in or out.”
And while the PSNI carries out its investigation, some former senior IRA members may be carrying out their’s separately.
During the morning some very grim-faced former IRA figures arrived on the scene to commiserate with Davison’s family and to try to piece together from local knowledge why he was murdered.
Whether locals will be more willing to volunteer information to them than to the police remains to be seen.
That information, if it is forthcoming, could end up with the PSNI in any case, with senior Sinn Féin figures such as Gerry Adams and Alex Maskey urging anyone with knowledge of the killing to go to the police.
Local republicans said Davison, who was a community worker, was separated from his wife, was living with a partner and, they believed, had three children and a number of grandchildren.
There were distressing scenes in the moring as some of the murdered man’s family and friends tried to break through the police cordon to see the body.
There were reports of one person shouting “Daddy, Daddy”, while another angrily described the killers as “bastards”.
Davison was an IRA commander in Belfast who came from a well-known republican family. His uncle, Brendan “Ruby” Davison, an IRA member, was shot dead by the Ulster Volunteer Force in 1988 close to the murder scene.
Another uncle, Terence Davison, was charged in connection with the 2005 murder of Robert McCartney. He was later acquitted.
McCartney, a father of two children, was murdered outside Magennis’s Bar close to the Markets on January 31st, 2005.
Three months after the killing, Gerard “Jock” Davison went public to deny ordering his murder. He was also accused of ordering other IRA members at the scene of the killing to forensically clean the bar so that evidence could not be found to help apprehend McCartney’s killers.
Despite an international campaign by the McCartney sisters and McCartney’s partner Bridgeen, no one has been convicted of the murder.
Mr Davison sustained stab wounds in a row in the pub that preceded the murder outside the bar. Against allegations that he was involved, he told the now defunct Daily Ireland newspaper in March 2005 that he was not outside the bar when McCartney was killed.
“Absolutely not . . . I went to the hospital to get my hands sorted out . . . I went to Dundonald hospital the next morning, I had nothing to hide.”
It is believed that Davison was one of three IRA members “court-martialled” and disciplined for alleged involvement in McCartney’s murder, although he has since enjoyed cordial relations with the broad republican movement.
A spokesman for the family said that there would be no comment on Davison’s murder at this stage.