Sunday 26 October 2014

Prominent dissident republican shot dead in west Belfast

Michael McHugh

Published 18/04/2014 | 18:07

Police officers secure the area close to where a prominent dissident republican was shot dead in west Belfast, Northern Ireland, Friday, April, 18, 2014. A senior Irish Republican Army hard-liner has been shot to death in Belfast three years after former comrades in his splinter group threatened to kill him. Nearby residents say gunmen escorted the victim, 43-year-old Tommy Crossan, to a fuel depot overlooked by houses and shot him in the head and body at close range. No group claimed responsibility. Police and politicians blamed Crossans former group, the Continuity IRA, for following through on 2011 death threats against him. The Continuity IRA accused him of keeping money from robberies and providing information on colleagues to British intelligence agents. Crossan denied this and refused to flee his native Catholic west Belfast. The major IRA faction, the Provisionals, renounced violence in 2005 but other militant groups remain active. Their last killing was in October.  (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Police officers secure the area close to where a prominent dissident republican was shot dead in west Belfast, Northern Ireland

A prominent dissident republican has been gunned down in broad daylight in Northern Ireland.

Tommy Crossan (43) was shot dead in the grounds of an industrial complex in West Belfast, in full view of surrounding houses, a local representative said.

A priest attended to pray over the bloodied victim in an area long known as a republican heartland but which has been relatively peaceful in recent years following the end of the IRA campaign in 1998.

Nationalist SDLP councillor Colin Keenan said: "We have long hoped that the shadow of death had been lifted from West Belfast.

"Today's event is a terrible, tragic reminder of the violent conflict of the past."

Crossan was reportedly the Continuity IRA's former leader and was believed to be the subject of a death threat from his former allies.

The organisation has opposed the peace process which largely ended three decades of violence and transformed the region.

The attack happened at the Peter Pan Centre in Springfield Road, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said.

The road, one of the main arterial routes, has been closed to traffic.

Family members have arrived and are said to be devastated.

A PSNI spokesman said: "Police are investigating a fatal shooting in the Springfield Road area of West Belfast this afternoon.

"One man has been shot dead in the vicinity of the Peter Pan Centre."

The largely-nationalist area of Belfast is mainly made up of tightly-packed terraced housing estates and businesses.

Mr Keenan said it was a horrific scene.

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