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Editorial: Shock at latest murder

THERE has been widespread shock and revulsion in Belfast and beyond at the cold-blooded murder of Sean Fox on Sunday afternoon.

The victim was singled out by two masked gunmen who entered the Donegal Celtic social club in west Belfast while it was busy with football fans watching the Manchester derby on television.

Witnesses have recounted in chilling detail how the men approached Mr Fox and shot him in the back of the head, continuing to fire after he fell.

While it is fortunate no-one else was injured, the murder will undoubtedly have had a traumatic effect on those present.

To bring any weapon into a public place, particularly such a crowded setting, is reckless in the extreme and must be unequivocally condemned.

The attack was clearly carefully planned and the fact the gunmen chose to escape on foot indicates familiarity with the local neighbourhood.

It had all the hallmarks of a gangland-style execution and is just the latest in a series of shocking killings in similar circumstances in recent years.

Mr Fox had been a close associate of Jim Donegan (43), who was shot dead as he sat in his car outside a school on the nearby Glen Road in December 2018.

The gunman again acted in broad daylight in a heavily-populated area and escaped on foot, with the murder linked to both the INLA and Óglaigh na hÉireann.

In December last year, Mark Hall (31) was killed when two men fired shots through the front window of a house in the St James's area of west Belfast on a Saturday afternoon

His friend Warren Crossan (28) – whose own father, Tommy, was murdered in 2014 – had been shot dead just a street away in June 2020.

Mr Crossan had been questioned in relation to the murder of Dublin criminal Robbie Lawlor in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast in April that year.

In February 2021, Danny McClean (54) was also shot dead while sitting a car outside a house on Cliftonville Road in the north of the city, while in May 2020, Kieran Wylie (57) was gunned down in similarly brutal circumstances at his home in the Lenadoon area of west Belfast.

It is a matter of enormous concern that Belfast is witnessing the type of murderous activity more commonly associated with Dublin or other centres of gangland criminality.

Anyone with information should come forward to help detectives track down those responsible and police must also ensure every possible effort is being made to take the gunmen off the streets.

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