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Analysis: McGuigan murder sends message that republicans will protect their own

Allison Morris
14 August, 2015 01:00

THE brutal circumstances of Kevin McGuigan's murder - shot in the back as he returned home from watching his daughters play a camogie match - has sent shockwaves through the close knit Short Strand community.

However it was inevitable that former 'comrades' of IRA commander-turned-community worker, Gerard 'Jock' Davison would seek revenge for his execution-style murder earlier this year.

The Markets area where Davison met his death and the Short Strand, where former IRA prisoner Kevin McGuigan was shot dead on Wednesday, are two communities joined together both by close geographical proximity and through family ties and relationships.

While the murder of both men is a personal tragedy for their families, the shootings raise questions in terms of how former members of paramilitary groups conduct themselves in areas where they once wielded unquestionable power.

Gerard Davison was the leader of Direct Action Against Drugs, an IRA cover group who carried out murders of high profile criminals in the 1990s. He would have also ordered numerous punishment style shootings on petty criminals and those who fell foul of the IRA.

Davison was a man with many enemies, yet his murder - coming as it did with little warning - caused concerns among former paramilitary figures. If a once powerful IRA commander could be murdered in the street then in reality all former members were vulnerable to revenge attack.

The murder of Kevin McGuigan was meant as a warning, a message to those who thought the balance of power had shifted and violent retribution could be exacted without fear or consequence.

Peter Robinson said yesterday there would be 'political repercussions' if the killing was discovered to be linked to to the Provisional IRA, an organisation officially on permanent ceasefire since July 1997.

In reality the murder of the father-of-nine is unlikely to cause any real political fallout. Stormont has survived far greater crises than this.

What it has done however is open up old wounds and pave the way for further violence on the streets.

As Sinn Féin members were yesterday calling for anyone with information on the McGuigan murder to contact the PSNI, in reality Gerard Davison's former IRA comrades chose to take the law into their own hands, a warning that they will continue to protect their own.

14 August, 2015 01:00 News

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