Provo command's own probe of 'Jock' killing condemned McGuigan to death
Police have confirmed that senior IRA members conducted an inquiry into the death of Gerard 'Jock' Davison, gunned down in May, and identified Kevin McGuigan as the likely killer.
The Belfast Telegraph has received the names of four people alleged to have carried out the inquiry, and another Short Strand former prisoner who is now missing from his home.
The men identified to us are all in their 50s or 60s and were ranking members of the IRA in the past. All but one comes from the organisation's 3rd Belfast Battalion area, which covers most of the city outside west Belfast. Its strongholds are Short Strand, the Markets and Ardoyne.
In 2000 Peter Robinson, then MP for East Belfast, named one of the men who is said to have carried out the inquiry as a member of the IRA Army Council. He placed two of the others on the organisation's general headquarters staff.
This was based on intelligence he received from a member of An Garda Siochana and was confirmed at the time by security sources in Northern Ireland.
The men who carried out the inquiry included a man who has been associated with the Restorative Justice movement, a former or serving adjutant general of the IRA who has been targeted by MI5 for surveillance in the past, its director of intelligence who himself had a recent death threat, and a former OC of the Belfast Brigade.
There is nervousness about how the situation will develop now. There are fears of a revenge attack as the identities of people allegedly involved become the subject of speculation. One suspect named locally has already left home. The fear is that someone will try to avenge Mr McGuigan and, if a prominent republican is attacked or killed, that will spark a backlash from the remnants of the Provos.
That is the worst case scenario, and would precipitate an immediate political and security crisis.
Short of that, the political repercussions if the police confirm the IRA sanctioned the attack will still be severe. All the parties, including Sinn Fein, are seeking meetings with the Chief Constable to try and get him to be more precise in fixing the blame.
First Minister Mr Robinson has spoken of excluding Sinn Fein from Stormont if an "organisational link" to the killing is established.
This may be hard or impossible to do - the IRA does not share records with the police and those said to be involved are experienced republicans, unlikely to confess to anything.
In the past suspicions of IRA involvement in violence have led to the temporary suspension of the Assembly and have forced Sinn Fein to give ground in negotiations.
Gerard Hodgkins is a former IRA hunger striker who has broken with the organisation. However, he is in no doubt it still exists in skeleton form.
"I can't say if the battalions and other structures are fully maintained, I doubt if they are, but the organisation has a new role and it is smaller. It is not about fighting a military campaign, it is about moving resources into legitimate businesses which can fund a political campaign. It is also about self-protection and intelligence," he said.