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Man held over IRA chief's gun death

Published 06/05/2015

Forensic officers in the Markets area of Belfast following the fatal shooting of former IRA commander Gerard 'Jock' Davison
Forensic officers in the Markets area of Belfast following the fatal shooting of former IRA commander Gerard 'Jock' Davison

A man has been arrested after a former IRA commander was shot dead in Belfast.

Gerard "Jock" Davison was gunned down in the street close to his home in the Markets area yesterday morning.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said a 41-year-old man was detained in the city today.

Detective Chief Inspector Justyn Galloway said: "The suspect was detained in Belfast this morning and is being questioned at a police station in the city.

"A property in north Belfast was searched last night as part of the overall investigation.

"I would again appeal to people who were in the Welsh Street area at 9am yesterday and who have information about the shooting to talk to detectives at Musgrave police station."

It is understood father-of-three Mr Davison, who was also a grandfather, had been making his way to a community centre where he worked when he was attacked.

He was shot a number of times while walking along Welsh Street in the staunchly republican Markets area close to the city centre.

As the IRA officer commanding in Belfast, the 47-year-old was one of the best-known republican figures in the city.

He backed Sinn Fein's peace process strategy following the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and was employed with the Markets Development Association as a community worker.

He was allegedly involved in the fight that led to the death of Belfast man Robert McCartney in January 2005 and was among three IRA members expelled following an internal investigation in the wake of the death. He was questioned by police but released without charge.

Mr McCartney's sisters, who were forced to move out of the Markets, led a long-running battle for justice for the killing of their brother, following a bar argument, which took them to the White House.

The killing happened at a time when Sinn Fein was under pressure to accept the rule of law in Northern Ireland. Its decision to support the police two years later led to the formation of a ministerial executive at Stormont and the sharing of power between republicans and the DUP.

Mr Davison's uncle, Terence Davison, was later acquitted of Mr McCartney's killing.

Father Michael McGinnity, parish priest of St Malachy's, near where the shooting happened, condemned the killers and appealed for anyone with information to contact police.

"Gerard Davison's murder was a depraved and diabolical crime. Nothing can justify such a barbaric act.

"The person who carried out this murder also showed a callous disregard for the lives of the people of the area and children on their way to school."

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