Assembly parties have united to condemn the broad daylight murder of loyalist Bobby Moffett.
And Justice Minister David Ford was told “serious questions” will have to be answered if it is shown the UVF carried out the killing
Mr Moffett (43), who was a former loyalist prisoner, was shot dead at point-blank range on the Shankill Road in Belfast last Friday and no organisation has yet claimed responsibility for the lunchtime killing.
But, while police have refused to pinpoint who they believe may have been responsible, there has been speculation Mr Moffett may have been involved in a fight in the days before his death with a member of the UVF.
The SDLP’s Alban Maginness said it had been or alleged Mr Moffett was a member of the UVF and his murder was carried out by the same organisation “or people associated with it”.
“If that is the case, serious questions must be put to the UVF; is it still a paramilitary organisation actively involved in violence? Or is it no longer extant as a paramilitary organisation and was the murder carried out by elements that purport to represent that organisation?” the North Belfast MLA asked.
He said he hoped in due course Mr Ford would report to members to outline “clearly and in detail” the circumstances of the murder to answer the questions “because it is necessary that those questions be answered to give the public confidence”.
North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said: “There is a lot of speculation and rumour. It is vital that the truth be brought out.
“No stone should be left unturned in the pursuit of truth and justice, and I urge the police to come forward and tell the public
what is known about the weapons involved.
“They should be quite open, as should all the other authorities, about what lies behind the attack, who was involved and all the rest of it. The killers have no support or cover whatsoever from people in the Shankill area. People there do not want to see that kind of event and they want to see justice done.”
Sinn Fein’s Paul Maskey said: “The murderers were not thinking of the Shankill Road or its community, and they could all too easily start a feud, which, experience has shown us, often starts with the killing of one person.
“It is important that we all work hard and collectively to ensure that that does not happen.”
And North Belfast Ulster Unionist MLA Fred Cobain said people on the Shankill had been saddened and shocked by the brutality of the murder and anyone with any information about the murder should give it to the police.