McGuigan murder weapon may have been part of IRA stash

The scene where Kevin McGuigan was murdered
The scene where Kevin McGuigan was murdered The scene where Kevin McGuigan was murdered

THE funeral for murder victim Kevin McGuigan will take place in Belfast tomorrow amid speculation he may have been shot dead with IRA guns held back during decommissioning.

The 53-year-old was gunned down as he opened a gate at his home in the Comber Court area of the Short Strand in east Belfast last Wednesday evening.

The father-of-nine will be laid to rest tomorrow following Requiem Mass at St Matthew's Church.

His murder came after he was warned by police that his life was under threat from republicans following speculation he was involved in the murder of former IRA commander Gerard 'Jock' Davison in the Markets area in May.

The former IRA member had stepped up security in recent months and spent time living away from his Short Strand home as a result.

Last week, a daughter of Mr McGuigan said she believed the IRA were involved in the killing her father, a claim denied by Sinn Féin.

The DUP has warned of political repercussions if republicans are found to behind the attack.

It has been speculated that guns used to kill Mr McGuigan may have been part of a secret stash of weapons that should have been decommissioned by the IRA but were held back.

It is understood police are examining bullets from the scene to try and identify a link to former IRA weapons although the weapon used may never have been fired before.

Friends of Mr Davison, a founding member of IRA cover group Direct Action Against Drugs, are suspected of the killing.

Two people arrested over the murder were released unconditionally on Friday.

The man and woman were detained in Belfast and questioned over events surrounding the shooting.

One of Mr McGuigan’s sons, Kevin McGuigan jnr, has also been warned by police that he may be under threat from republicans.

Mr McGuigan snr had served time in prison for kidnapping a British soldier after being arrested in 1986 along with Ardoyne republican Martin Meehan.

He remained active in the IRA after being released from jail from a 10-year term and was at one time a close friend of 'Jock' Davison.

He later fell foul of the organisation and was shot four times in an IRA punishment-style attack believed to have been ordered by Mr Davison leading to speculation that he may have been involved in his murder.

Police confirmed they spoke to Mr McGuigan about the murder but said it was as a “witness” and not a suspect.

Mr McGuigan had fitted his home with a number of additional security features including a large perimeter fence and security doors in recent months.

On the night of his murder, he had been to Ballymena to watch two of his daughters play camogie.

There is speculation that his killers were lying in wait and may have been tipped off about his movements by someone close to him.

Requiem Mass will take place at St Matthew's Church tomorrow at 12 noon before burial at City Cemetery on the Falls Road.