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Kevin McGuigan's murder a brutal execution

The murder of Kevin McGuigan in front of his wife in the Short Strand in east Belfast was a brutal execution, an example of the sort of gun law that must be rejected if we are to move forward and build a better society.

The cold blooded killing of the father of nine took place after he arrived at his home on Wednesday night. He had just got out of his car to open a gate when two masked men shot him a number of times.

This shocking crime has been linked to the murder in May of former IRA leader Jock Davison in the Markets area. Mr McGuigan (53), who was also once a senior figure in the IRA, was at one time a close associate of Mr Davison.

However, the Short Strand man, who served a sentence for attempted murder, was shot in both legs and expelled from the IRA some years ago following a dispute with Mr Davison.

After Jock Davison's murder, Kevin McGuigan emerged as a key suspect, although he continued to deny any involvement. Police said yesterday he was spoken to as a potential witness during the investigation, not a suspect.

But speculation over the motive for his killing is focusing on it being a revenge attack.

It is inevitable that suspicion will fall on former associates of Mr Davison although Sinn Fein MLA Alex Maskey was firm in his denial of IRA involvement.

First minister Peter Robinson warned of political repercussions if it turns out there was ``organisational involvement from the Provisional IRA.''

Certainly, if that was the case then the implications would be extremely serious for the political structures.

Clearly, the view of the PSNI will be crucial and officers will need to provide some indication of where their inquiries are leading.

Both Jock Davison and Kevin McGuigan had violent pasts but there can never be any justification for murder.

We also need to be careful we do not descend into some form of Dublin-style gangsterism, where grievances are dealt with through the barrel of a gun.

The rule of law must be paramount and we must hope the police make early progress in apprehending those responsible.

Meanwhile, dissident republicans are being blamed for a reckless and potentially lethal attack in Derry after a bomb exploded in a roadside bin.

Luckily no one was injured but had anyone been passing at the time of the blast on the Skeoge Road then the consequences could have been devastating.

As with the murder in Belfast, bomb attacks in Derry are completely wrong, inexcusable and an affront to the entire community.

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