Northern Ireland news

Northern Ireland lagging behind in legislation to deal with gangland crime

A forensic examination of the scene where Malcolm McKeown was shot dead as he sat in his car behind a filling station in Waringstown, Co Down. Picture by Mal McCann.

THE gangland murder of Malcolm McKeown, is the kind of killing more common on the streets of Dublin or inner city London than in the sleepy village of Waringstown, in Co Down.

A man with a brutal reputation McKeown was aware he was under threat from a number of criminal associates.

He had been linked to the execution style murder of Hugh and Jackie McGeough. The couple were shot dead in their Legahory Court home in Craigavon in 2011. The charges were later dropped over questionable DNA evidence.

With a lengthy criminal career he was facing trial for his part in an aggravated burglary during which a householder was bound with cable ties.

His brothers Trevor and Clifford were members of a notorious sectarian gang of killers linked to Billy Wright's breakaway LVF.

The family have a bloody history and many enemies. McKeown, operated on the fringes of loyalist paramilitaries.

Involved in the drugs trade and with access to weapons he is a man who mixed in dangerous circles.

His death had similarities to that of Jim Donegan, who was gunned down as he sat in his car in west Belfast in December last year.

His death also linked to a gangland fallout among high profile criminals connected to the drugs trade.

The growing number of organised crime gangs with easy access to weapons is concerning.

Thorough, robust and efficient policing of such gangsterism is essential for public confidence in the PSNI.

Police must be clear on whether there is paramilitary links to the murder of Malcolm McKeown and if the weapon used has previous ballistics history.

Northern Ireland lags behind when it comes to legislation to deal with organised crime.

There needs to be a review of the system and if necessary Westminster intervention to ensure that lawlessness such as that seen in Waringstown on Monday does not creep further into society.

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