A Shankill churchman has issued a blunt warning on paramilitary control of the community in the wake of the gangland-style slaying of Bobby Moffet.
Pastor Jack McKee also made a plea for no retaliation, while voicing fears that the killing of the 44-year-old could lead to further violence.
He said loyalist paramilitaries “control the streets” and the murder disproved official claims that total decommissioning of their guns had taken place.
“I am totally disgusted,” he told the Belfast Telegraph. “I've just got out of the Mater Hospital with a woman from our church who had screamed at the two men to stop shooting the guy.
“She had blood on her clothes because she actually got down to try and help him. She's in total shock.
“I am hearing there are other women and children who witnessed this and went into a panic, crying and screaming.”
Mr McKee, a Shankill-based pastor since the early 1980s, also said: “I am concerned that there are a lot of angry men on the Shankill Road today.
“I would appeal to those men not to allow their anger to lead them to retaliation, because that doesn't get us anywhere.
“Hopefully the police will get the right leads and that these guys will be caught and put where they belong, and that is behind bars.
“I'm angry, yet I know I can put a lid on my anger. I'm concerned about those who are angry and don't have that kind of spiritual lid.”
The churchman said the extent of paramilitary dominance was “played down” by the Government and others.
“The fact is that the people of the Shankill Road know full well who still controls the Shankill.
“They know that the paramilitaries control the streets and that they still control their men.
“They can make a phone call and get them to come to a funeral or get them to come out onto the streets at a moment's notice. These guys are still in control.
“What happened there today is blatant evidence of the fact that full decommissioning did not take place.
“Gerry Adams said of the IRA a number of years ago that they ‘haven't gone away you know'. Well he can say that concerning any paramilitary group, whether they are republican or loyalist. None of them have gone away.
“None of us on the Shankill Road are foolish enough and have ever been foolish enough to believe that the guns were truly decommissioned — and not only the guns but the mindsets of those who think that the gun is the only solution,” the pastor added.