A senior police officer today blamed the Shankill UVF for the murder of Bobby Moffett.
As hundreds of mourners gathered to pay their final respects to the 43-year-old, the man leading the hunt for his killers made a direct appeal to the community for information to take those responsible off the streets.
DCI John McVea described Mr Moffett’s murder as “a public execution” by UVF-linked gunmen.
“The people who conducted this have strong links to the Shankill UVF,” he said. Yesterday the Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris had confirmed that involvement of the UVF hierarchy was a possibility.
Last night hundreds of people attended a vigil for Mr Moffett on the Shankill Road.
The father-of-six was shot in the head and face in broad daylight last Friday afternoon.
DCI John McVea described Mr Moffett’s murder as “a public execution” and said he believed the killers had links to the Shankill UVF.
He said it was essential that people come forward to take those responsible off the streets.
The appeal was made during a press conference at PSNI headquarters this morning.
DCI McVea revealed that more than 30 searches linked to the murder inquiry have already taken place.
“This was a very public murder,” he said.
“I believe the time and location was at the choosing of the gunmen. This leads me to call it a public execution.
“The people who conducted this have strong links to the Shankill UVF.”
DCI McVea said many people had already provided police with information.
Six people have been arrested, with one person charged with terrorist-linked offences, while police have conducted 31 searches.
“The answer to this murder lies within the community of the Shankill,” he added. “I am particularly keen for people who saw the activity in Conway Street to come forward.”
He said that while the killers wore balaclavas during the murder, he believed they were not worn before or after the shooting.
DCI McVea also appealed for information about a silver blue Skoda Octavia and light blue Audi A4 believed to be connected to the murder.
Yesterday the Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris had confirmed that involvement of the UVF hierarchy was a possibility.
“There are a number of suspects that we would believe would be linked to the UVF,” Mr Harris said.
“So that is a very serious development and an active line of inquiry that we are pursuing.”
Mr Harris said the UVF remained a coherent organisation.
It came after Dawn Purvis, leader of the PUP which is linked to the UVF, had resigned following the murder of Mr Moffett.
Senior PUP members are to meet soon to decide on their future. But there is intense speculation that several leading figures in the party are to follow in the East Belfast MLA’s departing footsteps.
Some sources are suggesting they will form a new loyalist political group and attempt to distance themselves from PUP structures, while adopting many of the party's policies.
In a statement yesterday, the PUP said it was losing “a great leader” and wished Ms Purvis well. Interim leader John Kyle, who represents the PUP on Belfast City Council, said he was still committed to the political project of the PUP. “We need to take some time to take stock, review the situation and decide what is the best way to take forward the policies and projects we believe in.”