A 26 year-old man has been arrested following the murder of a prominent dissident republican on Friday afternoon.
Tommy Crossan, 43, was killed inside an industrial complex known as the Peter Pan centre off the Springfield Road in Belfast.
The man was arrested in west Belfast on Saturday and taken to Antrim Serious Crime Suite for questioning.
Crossan was reportedly the Continuity IRA’s former leader, but was believed to be the subject of a death threat from his former allies. A priest attended to pray over the bloodied victim.
Yesterday the News Letter was at the scene, where police had erected cordons on either side of the centre.
Alongside the usual republican paraphernalia such as starry ploughs and tricolours, the dissident influence in the neighbourhood was clear – on the corner of the block where Crossan was killed, ineffective efforts had been made to whitewash the letters CIRA off a wall. Elsewhere grafitti read: “Support our POWs” and – in two locations – “CIRA GHQ”.
No one spoken to said they had seen or heard the incident, and one woman who identified herself as a family member indicated they did not wish to speak.
On the scene at the Springfield Road, there was surprise and dismay at what had taken place from many of those the News Letter spoke to.
Others, who refused to give their names, said that over the course of the Troubles the area had become almost used to such scenes, with one old lady describing it as being as commonplace as “a cup of tea”.
Virtually next door to where the shooting happened was Maqsood Hussain, a 27-year-old kebab shop worker from north Belfast.
His shop had just been opening up at around 4.45pm when the shooting happened.
He said he heard nothing, and was surprised when police started flooding the area shortly afterwards.
From Pakistan originally, he had been in Northern Ireland for 12 years and said: “I’ve heard about people being shot dead, but never next door to me.”
One woman who lives not far from the scene is Rita, 59 and working in a nearby Chinese takeaway.
She refused to give her second name, but said: “Look at the lovely day! Can it not just be Easter? This is just bringing the bad days back. We don’t want it. And with all the kids running about, it’s absolutely dreadful.”
She declared the incident “shocking”, particularly given the time of year, but added: “By all accounts, it’ll not be the last. Happy Easter.”
Mrs Madeline Scullion, originally from the area but now living in Andersonstown, was in a hairdressers looking out towards the crime scene, alongside five-year-old grandchild Sofia.
The 58-year-old housewife said: “It’s sad any time but Easter time, like, it’s just dreadful
“I just think everything’s calmed down and things like this just happen out of the blue all of a sudden.”
Her grandchild scrambled up beside her to try and see out, but Mrs Scullion said: “I don’t want her even looking over at it. You don’t want wee ones at that age to see that.”
SDLP councillor Colin Keenan lives just a short distance from the crime scene, and branded the event “a terrible, tragic reminder of the violent conflict of the past”.
Sinn Fein’s Jennifer McCann called for anyone with any information “to bring it to the PSNI”.
Justice Minister David Ford said: “I condemn this appalling crime and offer my sympathies to the family.”