Senior republicans arrested in Kevin McGuigan murder probe
PROMINENT republicans Bobby Storey and Eddie Copeland are among three men arrested by detectives investigating the murder of Kevin McGuigan.
Police said three men, aged 45, 58 and 59, were arrested this morning in north and west Belfast.
Bobby Storey is the northern chairman of Sinn Fein and a former IRA prisoner. Eddie Copeland is a high-profile republican from Ardoyne in north Belfast.
Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he was "surprised" by Bobby Storey's arrest.
"Bobby Storey is a valued member of Sinn Fein's core leadership. He has played a leading role in the development of Sinn Fein's peace strategy and is a long standing and loyal supporter, defender and advocate of the peace and political processes. We look forward with confidence to his early release," he added.
The arrests bring to 16 the number of people arrested in connection with the investigation. One man has been charged with weapons offences.
Mr McGuigan was gunned down outside his Short Strand home on August 12.
The father-of-nine was a former IRA prisoner who was suspected of involvement in the murder of former IRA leader Gerard 'Jock' Davison in May.
PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton has said he believes individual IRA members were involved in Mr McGuigan's murder but that it was not sanctioned.
The political fall-out has brought Stormont to the brink of collapse and crisis talks are taking place.