IRA involvement in Kevin McGuigan murder of 'great concern' to officers
PSNI assessment a worrying development - Police Federation
Rank and file police officers have said the PSNI's assessment that there was IRA involvement in the murder of Kevin McGuigan is of great concern to them.
The organisation which represents officers, the Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI), said it was very worrying the IRA's command structure could be "activated at will".
On Thursday, Detective Superintendent Kevin Geddes, the officer leading the overall investigation of the shooting of former IRA man Kevin McGuigan, said police believe a criminal gang calling itself Action Against Drugs was behind the killing.
The senior detective said Action Against Drugs comprised criminals, violent dissident republicans and former members of the Provisional IRA.
He added: "A major line of inquiry for this investigation is that members of the Provisional IRA were involved in this murder."
He said he had "no information" to determine if the killing was sanctioned at command level.
PFNI Chairman, Mark Lindsay, said: “This was a deliberate and measured assessment by the PSNI, conscious that every syllable would be placed under the microscope and weighed and analysed.
“It is a very worrying development if a command structure can be activated at will. Our members view developments with great and justifiable concern.
“Officers are doing their best to police and safeguard this entire community and that means there is no place for murder gangs or paramilitary organisations which have nothing but misery to offer.
“Our Officers are every bit a part of civic society and they, too, strive for peace without the threat of the gunman. My appeal today is to help the Police find the killers. Only when they are put behind bars can Northern Ireland move on to a better place.”
Father of nine, Kevin McGuigan was gunned down at his home in the Short Strand area of east Belfast last Thursday, August 13.
It is thought the shooting was a reprisal for the murder of one-time IRA leader Jock Davison.
Davison was gunned down in the Markets area in May. There has been widespread speculation that McGuigan's murder was a revenge hit by associates of Davison.
The Belfast Telegraph understands detectives have "no intelligence or evidence" to link McGuigan to the Davison killing.
Last night First Minister Peter Robinson warned that Sinn Fein could not remain in the Executive if the IRA was found to be involved and said he would confer with other parties and the Secretary of State to initiate exclusion procedures if that proved to be the case.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: "The people who murdered Jock Davison are criminals. Those who murdered Kevin McGuigan are also criminals. They must be brought to justice."