Tuesday 24 October 2017

Profile of Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison - the IRA boss who ordered the brutal killing of Robert McCartney

Victim Robert McCartney with one of his sons
Victim Robert McCartney with one of his sons
Jim Cusack

By Jim Cusack

Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison was infamously the IRA boss who drew his finger across his throat as a signal to the gang to set about the murderous attack on Robert McCartney.

Davison (48) was the ‘officer commanding’ of the Provisional IRA in south Belfast having inherited the position, locals say, because his uncle, Brendan ‘Ruby’ Davision who was shot dead by loyalists in July 1998, was an ‘OC’ before him.

On the night of the Robert McCartney murder, Davison and his ‘unit’ were part of a large group of Sinn Fein members who had just returned from the annual republican pilgrimage to commemorate the 1972 Bloody Sunday killings of 14 Catholic protestors by the British Army in Derry.

Davison and his crew bore some bad feeling towards McCartney and his small group of friends who had been enjoying a drink in Magennis’ pub before the Sinn Fein group of about 90 arrived back in Belfast on coaches from Derry and began filling the bar.

Local people said it was Davison’s personal animus towards Robert McCartney that drove the incident. Davison had ‘fancied’ a woman close to McCartney but had been spurned and had developed a dislike of Robert and his family.

Read more: Gerard 'Jock' Davison murder: Shooting of ex-IRA man 'not sectarian'

Davison was hated in The Markets area where he grew up in and became the local Provo boss. He felt, local people said, unassailable with his gang around him, including figures who were known locally as criminals including one suspected of paedophile rape.

One of his gang actually had the nickname ‘Rapist’ and others were known as violent criminals who played little role in the IRA’s actual campaign but came to place themselves alongside Davison as local republican boss.

Gerard 'Jock' Davison
Gerard 'Jock' Davison
Police and ambulance crews at the scene of a fatal shooting of Gerard'Jock' Davison on the Markets area of South Belfast, Northern Ireland. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
A 2006 photograph of Robert McCartney sisters from left, Catherine, Donna, Paula, Claire and Gemma with his partner Bridgeen Hagans (seated centre). Photo: Paul Faith/PA
Robert McCartney was stabbed to death outside a Belfast bar in 2005

Through his uncle’s connections Davison was ‘well connected’ with senior figures in the Republican Movement, as the IRA and Sinn Fein, was termed. He was pictured on occasions alongside Gerry Adams and other senior party figures.

But, locally, there were strong suspicions that Davison was an agent for the British Army and this was compounded in the immediate aftermath of the McCartney murder.

In the frenzy of the killing - with up to a dozen men beating and stabbing Robert McCartney and his friend, Brendan Devine, who survived - Davison, who was wielding one of the kitchen knives taken from the pub, stabbed himself in the hand.

He was taken to the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald in east Belfast, a strange move given that the main accident and emergency units in Belfast are in the much nearer Royal Victoria and Mater Hospitals.

Witnesses at the Ulster Hospital reported that when Davison arrived he was met by two men wearing suits and who spoke in English accents. It was taken that these were Davison’s ‘handlers’, the term for agent controllers.

Read more: Former IRA leader Gerard 'Jock' Davison shot dead in south Belfast

The suspicion that Davison was a ‘tout’ was compounded by the revelations in the aftermath of his uncle Ruby’s murder that he, too, was a senior informant for the Royal Ulster Constabulary’s Special Branch. Ruby was shot dead by the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) who were unaware at the time he was working for the RUC.

Another of Gerard Davison’s uncles was the former IRA internal security figure, Freddie Scappaticci, also from the Markets area and allegedly another senior British agent within the Provisional IRA, something he too has denied,.

Gerard Davison continued living in the Markets area as the international controversy over the McCartney murder spread to the White House as the five McCartney sisters pursued their ultimately unsuccessful campaign for justice.

Local people said this week Davison was one of those former Provos who had benefitted personally from the ‘peace’ deal in the North, buying up holiday homes in seaside resorts on the County Down coast.

It was reputed that he owned eight such houses which he rented out. He was also reputedly the owner of a number of commercial and private properties in Belfast but he may have been holding these in trust for the IRA.

Davison denied being an informant and being responsible for Robert McCartney’s murder in subsequent interviews in 2005, one with the defunct newspaper, Daily Ireland.

Despite the suspicions about him he remained as local IRA boss running his organisation.

It was reported after the murder that Davison’s ‘punishment’ for his part in the attack was a three-month suspension from Sinn Fein.

As this morning’s murder spread shockwaves through Sinn Fein in Belfast, local people began speculating that the murder could have been to do with the rise of the drugs trade in the city’s nationalist areas where the IRA previously shot dead anyone suspected of drug dealing.

Davison was suspected of the April 1995 murder of a local drugs dealer Micky Mooney, who was shot dead as he sat drinking with friends in a city centre bar. His murder was one of nine assassinations of alleged drug dealers in Belfast which were carried out around or after the time of the IRA ceasefires.

These murders were carried out by the IRA using the cover-name Direct Action Against Drugs and Davison, who served time in jail for explosives in the 1980s, was believed to be the head of this unit.

Catholic working class areas of Belfast are awash with hard drugs and places like the Falls Road now have a serious heroin problem.

The IRA, having effectively declined into a criminal organisation increasingly operating through semi or legitimate fronts, no longer has the ‘military’ capability to counter the increasing power of the drugs gangs, local sources say.

This, and Davison’s previous history as head of DAAD, might have been the reason for his murder, locals have said.

Davison was a deeply unsavoury figure who used his interview with Daily Ireland and elsewhere the taunt the McCartney family saying if they had any issues they should take in up with the North’s Police Ombudsman.

In his interviews Davison described himself as “a victim of circumstances”.

"I admit that I was involved in an altercation with Brendan Devine inside the bar, but the allegation that I later made this famous hand signal is simply not true.”

He said he actually ‘supported’ the McCartneys' campaign for justice, adding: "Robert McCartney should never have been killed. It is his family's right to demand justice and I respect that.

"Justice means justice, but not the McCartney sisters' version of justice.”

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