Leading article

No possible justification for Warren Crossan murder

The murder of Warren Crossan in west Belfast last Saturday was shocking in its brutality and a further unwelcome sign that the gangland violence often witnessed in the Republic is spreading north of the border.

That would be a deeply worrying development and given the years of conflict that have blighted our society, we absolutely do not need yet more criminals bringing guns onto the streets for their own nefarious ends.

Warren Crossan was just 28-years-old when he died, his life already marked by tragedy and violence. His father, Continuity IRA leader Tommy Crossan, was killed in 2014 by rival dissidents.

The younger man was shot dead just a short distance from his mother's home in the St James's area just before 1pm on Saturday.

Two masked gunmen chased their victim through the streets, firing shots as he fled. It is hard to imagine a more reckless act, terrifying for local residents who could easily have been caught up in the gunfire.

At least one bullet hit a car belonging to a resident, demonstrating that the killers had no regard whatsoever for the safety of local people as they engaged in their deadly pursuit.

It is believed this cold-blooded crime had its roots in the murder of Robbie Lawlor, a leading Dublin underworld figure linked to the murder of Drogheda teenager Keane Mulready-Wood earlier this year.

Lawlor was shot dead in the garden of a house in Ardoyne in north Belfast in April, with Crossan arrested and questioned by police a short time later.

Crossan was also facing trial in connection with a plan to smuggle £180,000 worth of cocaine across the border and was described in court as a 'kingpin' of a criminal gang.

No matter what the background of this man, there can be no possible justification for murder. There are real fears of further bloodshed carried out by criminal elements intent on retribution.

The police and wider community should be seriously concerned about any upsurge in violence and criminality involving these ruthless gun gangs.

In-depth cooperation between the PSNI and An Garda Síochána is essential if the rule of law is to be brought to bear on the gangsters who feel there are no barriers to their sinister and destructive activities.

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Leading article