Northern Ireland

Setting date for inquest of former IRA commander Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison ‘might create false hope’

Gerard 'Jock' Davison (47) was shot dead in the Markets area of Belfast as he walked to work in May 2015
Gerard 'Jock' Davison (47) was shot dead in the Markets area of Belfast as he walked to work in May 2015

Setting a date for an inquest into the death of former Provisional IRA commander Gerard “Jock” Davison at this stage could create “false hope”, a coroner has been told.

During a brief preliminary hearing in the case at Laganside Courthouse in Belfast, coroner Paddy McGurgan was told the PSNI worker dealing with the disclosure of sensitive material is on sick leave.

Mr Davison (47) was shot dead in the Markets area of Belfast as he walked to work in May 2015.

He had been involved in a personal dispute with other republicans.

Three months after Mr Davison was killed, former IRA man Kevin McGuigan was murdered in a shooting in nearby Short Strand.

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Mr McGurgan is presiding over both inquests.

Laganside court
The hearing took place at Laganside Courthouse in Belfast (PA)

Receiving an update from his counsel Philip Henry, the coroner was told the PSNI had provided 28 files of non-sensitive material in the case.

The lawyer said the coroner’s service had also viewed all the sensitive material in the case and that the barrister for the PSNI, John Rafferty, would need to provide his client with an opinion ahead of a public interest immunity (PII) application.

Mr Henry said: “He is slightly disadvantaged at the moment because I was visiting Seapark in relation to a different inquest and I know that the person who had been dealing with PII and giving Mr Rafferty his instructions is on sick leave at the moment.”

Jock Davison funeral
The funeral of Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison, a former IRA commander, in 2015 (PA)

He told the court it would be difficult to set a date for the full inquest until the disclosure process is at a more advanced stage.

He added: “I think if the court attempted to fix an inquest hearing date today you might be creating false hope or setting us up to fail. You would need a better indication from the PSNI of how long that exercise will take.”

Mr McGurgan said: “To give the PSNI a chance and an opportunity, given that they have somebody who is in control of this on sick leave, there is no point listing preliminary hearings.

“I don’t like bringing people back unnecessarily but at the same time I don’t like taking my foot off the pedal.”

Another preliminary hearing is scheduled for November 17.