A dissident republican suspected of involvement in the murder of Dublin gangland figure Robbie Lawlor has been shot dead in Belfast.
The man, in his late twenties, was gunned down on Rodney Drive off the lower Falls Road around lunchtime today.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) have not named the dead man.
It is understood he had links to the Continuity IRA and was a suspected drug dealer.
Police are investigating whether the Belfast man was killed to avenge the shooting of Robbie Lawlor in April. Lawlor was aligned to one side of the warring factions in the Drogheda feud and was linked to a string of brutal crimes before his death.
He was the prime suspect for the torture and dismemberment of 17-year-old Keane Mulready Woods in January, a particularly brutal crime that caused public outrage.
Gardai suspect that Lawlor was “set up” when he travelled to Belfast to collect a drug debt. When he called to a house in the Ardoyne by appointment, he was met by a gun man who shot him in broad daylight.
The Belfast man was one of five suspects who was arrested within 24 hours of Lawlor’s murder. His house was searched but he was later released without charge.
He also appeared in court separately on drugs charges in Northern Ireland in recent months. He had denied that he was involved in drug dealing.
The PSNI have not commented on the investigation beyond saying: “Police are aware of reports of a shooting incident in West Belfast this afternoon. Detectives and local police are at the scene. Further updates will follow as enquiries progress.”
Local politicians condemned the shooting. The SDLP west Belfast councillor Brian Heading said the crime had caused immense shock.
"Police have locked down the street where the shooting took place. I would urge everyone to co-operate with PSNI officers as they investigate.
"Those responsible for this barbaric crime have no support here. They need to be caught and brought to justice. I would encourage anyone with information to bring it to the police as soon as possible."
Sinn Fein MP Paul Maskey said: "My thoughts are with the family of the man who has been killed. No family should have to go through this heartache. Those involved in this act have absolutely no place in our community, they must cease their anti-community activities and get off the back of the people of west Belfast.”