Analysis: Family of Gerard 'Jock' Davison left with unanswered questions

The murder of Gerard 'Jock' Davison set off a chain of events that had major political repercussions
The murder of Gerard 'Jock' Davison set off a chain of events that had major political repercussions

THE daylight killing of Gerard 'Jock' Davison, the most senior member of the republican movement to be murdered in more than 20 years, sent shockwaves across the north.

He was shot dead in one of Belfast's oldest districts, an area where he lived, worked and was known on first-name terms by almost all in the small, tight-knit community.

His killing presented a very real challenge for mainstream republicans. Now wedded to politics and peace, they could not be seen to retaliate for the murder of one of their own as they would have in the past.

But if someone as senior as Mr Davison could be gunned down in broad daylight in the streets of a nationalist neighbourhood, who would or could be next?

Within hours of the murder the name of the main suspect was known.

Kevin McGuigan had once been friends with his victim. Both members of the IRA, they were linked to a spate of post-ceasefire killings under the cover name Direct Action Against Drugs.

McGuigan was a hit man, someone used to carrying out execution-style killings.

He had also held a bitter grudge against Davison, something he had been very public about. So much so that Davison, known as 'Big Jock', had told people he thought he was being watched as he walked to and from work in the weeks leading up to his death.

Kevin McGuigan would be gunned down outside his Short Strand home in August 2015.

His killing, linked to members of the Provisional IRA retaliating for the death of their 'comrade' and sending out a message that it was not 'open season' on their veterans, sparked a political crisis that almost collapsed the Stormont government.

We now know police were told that a weapon was being stored in a house close to where Mr Davison was shot dead but failed to act on that information.

The ombudsman has said it was not possible to establish if there ever was a gun or if it had any connection to the murder.

However, the victim's elderly father Jimmy is inevitably left with unanswered questions. Could his son's life have been saved? Could his attacker have been caught before he pulled the trigger?

As his solicitor Philip Breen has said, the family, far from receiving closure, have been further traumatised by these revelations.