A full republican funeral is expected to take place later today of murder victim Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison, a former member of the Provisional IRA’s northern command.
The cold-blooded murder of Mr Davison near his home in the Markets area of south Belfast has caused profound shock in the area and across the North. He had been a senior IRA member in the early 1990s during a time when the organisation worked to combat rampant drug dealing in the city. It is understood he had been warned he was under threat in the past.
The father-of-three was shot several times in the head and chest as he walked to work at about 9am on Monday in Welsh Street. It is believed a lone gunman emerged from an entry and shot Mr Davison before making off on foot. The killer appeared to have known Mr Davison’s routine and had local knowledge of the area.
Mr Davison had in recent times been heavily involved in community work for the Market’s Development Association. They issued a statement condemning the killing and blaming criminal elements.
The PSNI confirmed that the attack was carried out by criminals who harbour a grudge against Mr Davison. The son of a drug-dealer executed by the IRA in the early 1990s is reported to be the chief suspect.
Mr Davison’s family received message of sympathy and support from across the nationalist and republican political spectrum, including republican prisoners at Maghaberry.
Republican Network for Unity call for a united approach within working-class areas to “face down criminal elements who are destroying our communities and attempting to remove anybody who might get in their way”.
Derogatory graffiti mocking the murder of Mr Davison appeared on walls in parts of loyalist east Belfast yesterday. The PUP’s South Antrim representative Scott McDowell enraged Sinn Fein activists when he said that “most sensible people would rejoice” at the murder.
The last senior figure in the republican movement killed in the north is believed to be Jim Lynagh who died in an SAS ambush at Loughgall in May 1987.
Mourners have been leaving flowers at the scene of the gun attack in the Markets area.
A heavy Crown force presence is expected for the funeral later today (Saturday) which clashes with a UVF memorial parade that passes close to the Markets. The parade is expected to be attended by 15,000 loyalists and travels from north Belfast to east Belfast, through the city centre and close to the Markets.