Northern Ireland news

The bulletproof vest that saved republican Pat Fitzpatrick

The bulletproof vest that saved the life of Pat Fitzpatrick.

THIS is the bulletproof vest that saved the life of republican Pat Fitzpatrick, who was shot in the back in east Belfast.

The 58-year-old was shot at around 7.45pm on Saturday as he was standing beside his car in the Short Strand area.

The weapon used is thought to have been a newer-type handgun with a silencer attached.

Police are investigating whether it is connected to the gun attack on Kevin McGuigan snr in the same area in 2015.

McGuigan, an experienced gunman and a former IRA member, had fallen foul of the organisation prior to his death and was the prime suspect in the murder of Gerard 'Jock' Davison.

Davison was shot dead on Welsh Street in the nearby Market area as he walked to work while Kevin McGuigan was gunned down in a retaliatory attack outside his Short Strand home three months later.

Immediately after the shooting police raided the homes of a number of republicans who were close to Davison, including that of Fitzpatrick.

When police arrived to search his home in the Lagmore area of west Belfast he attempted to escape out the back door armed with the stolen PSNI Glock pistol.

Officers then forcibly entered the premises and arrested the suspect in a downstairs bedroom.

Pat Fitzpatrick who survived a murder bid

He was convicted of possession of the weapon which he claimed was for the protection of his family.

No one has ever been charged with the killing of Kevin McGuigan. The murder caused a political scandal after it was linked to members of the IRA, and almost collapsed the Stormont assembly.

It is the second time that Fitzpatrick has survived a murder bid. In 1988 he lost an eye when a UVF gang opened fire on him as he sat in his taxi.

Cautious of his personal security since then he was known to wear a bulletproof vest when out in public.

After Saturday's shooting Fitzpatrick escaped to a friend's house who took him to hospital for treatment for his injuries.

A picture posted on social media shows a red mark close to his heart where the bullet struck but was stopped by the vest.

A PSNI spokesman said: "Guns have no place in our community.

"We are fortunate that we are not dealing with a fatality following this disgraceful attack in which a firearm was discharged in a residential area.

"The people undertaking these attacks do not represent our communities."

Pat Fitzpatrick shows the injury he sustained when he was shot in the back wile wearing a bulletproof vest.

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