Provisional IRA members are the chief suspects in the murder of a father-of-eight in east Belfast last night.
Kevin McGuigan, who was in his early fifties, was killed by two men armed with automatic assault rifles at the front door of his home in the Catholic Short Strand area of east Belfast.
McGuigan was regarded as the main suspect in the murder of leading Provo boss in Belfast, Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison (46) shot dead as he walked to a local Sinn Fein ‘community’ office in the nearby Markets area in April.
The PSNI has apparently made little headway in its investigation into the murder of Jock Davison who was shot dead by a lone gunman.
Last night’s victim was quickly identified by republican sources as a leading suspect despite having formerly been a close associate of Davison’s in a IRA front organisation, Direct Action Against Drugs, which was responsible for murdering up to a dozen alleged drug dealers in the 1990s.
However, McGuigan fell out with the organisation after a dispute which resulted in him being subjected to a punishment shooting near his home in Comber Court, Short Strand in the early 2000s.
Local sources said McGuigan bore a bitter grudge against the IRA for whom he had carried several murders and served time in jail for the attempted murder of a soldier in the 1980s.
It is believed he carried out the murder of Jock Davison in return for payment from a drugs gang he had become associated with. It is believed they wanted Davison dead because he was making extortion demands.
It was said that although Jock Davision was not directly involved in McGuigan’s kneecapping he blamed his former associate for giving the order.
Republican sources in the city last night said McGuigan was an immediate target for the Provos who both the Republic’s and British governments say is no longer involved in terrorism or crime and allegedly went out of existence almost a decade ago.
Immediately after the Davison murder, McGuigan fled to Spain but is believed to have returned only recently with sources saying he was prepared to ‘front up’ to the Provos.
He was killed when the two gunmen wearing balaclavas walked up to his house and opened fire at close range with assault rifles of unknown origin around 9pm.
The PSNI and local politicians are not pointing any finger of blame but well-placed republican sources in Belfast say there is little doubt that the Provos were responsible.
It was claimed the Provos set up a special unit to dig up evidence in the Davison murder and McGuigan’s name quickly came to the top of their suspect list.
There was no claim for last night’s murder but it bore the hallmarks of a well planned and ruthlessly carried-out assassination.
If, as is believed, the Provisional IRA is responsible this could have knock-on consequences for Sinn Fein which was allowed to participate in government in Northern Ireland on the basis that the IRA had gone out of business and it recognised the PSNI.
It also calls into question the alleged total decommissioning of the Provisional’s arsenal of weapons which was supposed to have been completed in 2005. International monitors claimed that the decommissioning had taken place but published no inventory details. Their report was fully endorsed by both governments.
No one has been charged in connection with the Davison murder which happened at breakfast time in a usually busy area. It is understood the PSNI has had difficulty in getting witnesses to come forward. The PSNI ruled out any ‘loyalist’ involvement in the Davison murder.
Although the Markets area where Davison was shot is close to Belfast city centre, offices and hotels there also appears to have been no clear CCTV evidence to help track his killer.
Last night’s attack took place close to one of Belfast’s biggest ‘peace line’ walls and barriers separating it from nearby Protestant east Belfast areas to stop the regular bouts of sectarian violence in the area.
McGuigan and Davison were regarded as the leading members of the IRA unit which used the cover-name Direct Action Against Drugs to murder a succession of alleged drug dealers in Catholic areas before and after the IRA ceasefire in 1997.
In all the IRA carried out more than 40 murders after its ceasefire including that of Paul Quinn, the 21-year-old south Armagh man beaten to death by up to a dozen local Provos in October 2007 after he had a dispute with a local senior Provisional. No one was ever charged with his murder.
Jock Davison was the leader of the IRA gang that also murdered the innocent Belfast man, Robert McCartney, who was stabbed and beaten to death while drinking with friends at a bar in the Markets area in January 2005. It was said that Davison gave the order for McCartney’s killing using a gesture of running his finger across his throat.
Senior Provisionals in the North were said to have been shocked by Davison’s murder and decided it had to be avenged despite any potential political consequences for Sinn Fein.
The special Provo unit set up to investigate the Davison murder and carry out retribution is said to be headed by a figure from the north of the city who was also linked to the DAAD group in the past.