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Kevin McGuigan murder: Man arrested in east Belfast

By David Young

Published 21/08/2015

Kevin McGuigan
Kevin McGuigan

Detectives investigating a murder linked to the Provisional IRA have arrested a 60-year-old man.

The police assessment of IRA involvement in the killing of father-of-nine Kevin McGuigan in Belfast last week has raised the prospect of a political bid to oust Sinn Fein from Northern Ireland's power-sharing government.

The arrest is the eighth made by detectives so far. The suspect was detained in east Belfast and has been taken to the Police Service of Northern Ireland's (PSNI) serious crime suite for questioning.

Detectives investigating the murder have so far charged one man with possessing a weapon with intent to endanger life.

The accused - Patrick John Fitzpatrick, 53, from Lagmore Dale in west Belfast - was remanded in custody at Lisburn Magistrates' Court yesterday. The other six held in relation to the shooting were subsequently released.

Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson last night indicated he will hold talks with other Executive parties about a potential Sinn Fein exclusion from the mandatory five-party coalition administration.

He said his Democratic Unionists entered government with republicans on a commitment to exclusively peaceful and democratic means through support for the police, the courts and the rule of law as well as the dismantling of the structures of their terrorist organisation.

The IRA has been on ceasefire since 1997 and decommissioned its weapons in 2005.

Yesterday the PSNI said it suspected current members of the PIRA of involvement in the murder of former IRA man Mr McGuigan.

Detectives have said they are not in a position to assess whether the killing was ordered by a command structure within the outlawed and supposedly defunct organisation.

Mr McGuigan was gunned down in east Belfast in a suspected feud between former IRA members.

He was shot dead in front of his wife Dolores outside their home in Comber Court in the republican Short Strand last Wednesday.

He was suspected by some in the republican movement of involvement in the murder of former IRA leader Gerard "Jock" Davison in the nearby Markets area of Belfast three months ago.

There has been widespread speculation that his killing was a revenge attack by Mr Davison's one-time republican associates.

PSNI Detective Superintendent Kevin Geddes said: "A major line of inquiry for this investigation is that members of the Provisional IRA were involved in this murder."

Mr Geddes said police were investigating whether a criminal group calling itself "Action Against Drugs" was behind the killing.

He noted that the group had issued a public statement earlier this month threatening to "execute" anyone it believed was involved in the Davison murder.

The detective said while Action Against Drugs was made up of "criminals, violent dissident republicans and former members of PIRA" he said current members of the PIRA are also suspected of involvement in the murder. But he insisted Action Against Drugs was a "separate" organisation from the PIRA.

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