Murder probe launched after man is shot dead in East Belfast

Fatal shooting in Short Strand''. Police officers at the scene of the fatal attack in the Comber Court area on Wednesday evening. ''Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Fatal shooting in Short Strand''. Police officers at the scene of the fatal attack in the Comber Court area on Wednesday evening. ''Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye

Police have launched a murder investigation after a man was shot dead near his home in east Belfast last night.

The shooting took place shortly before 9pm in the Comber Court area of Short Strand.

The man was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital where his death was confirmed.

There was a heavy police presence in the area following the attack.

The man killed in the attack last night has been named locally as a former PIRA man Kevin McGuigan.

Elected representatives condemned the murder.

First Minister Peter Robinson said on Twitter: “There can be no justification for last night’s murder. I hope those responsible can be identified and brought to justice.”

East Belfast DUP MP Gavin Robinson said: “There can be no justification for the murder in Short Strand tonight. No one has the right to take the law into their own hands.”

Sinn Fein councillor Niall O Donnghaile said: “I unreservedly condemn the shooting of a local man near his home in the Short Strand tonight and I am saddened to learn that the man has died.

“This action has shocked the local community and my thoughts are with the family of the victim.

“There can be no place for actions like this in our society.

“The community here rejects any attempt by any armed group to turn the clock back to the past.”

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: “My thoughts are with the family of the man shot dead in the Short Strand area of Belfast tonight. I unreservedly condemn this appalling deed.”

Alasdair McDonnell, leader of the SDLP, said: “This was a brutal and terrible crime in Belfast and I utterly condemn those behind it.

“The perpetrator must be held to account for bringing this level of inhumanity and savagery back to our streets.

“We must stand against those who would seek to drag us all back to the ways of the past.”

In May, one-time IRA commander Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison was shot dead in the republican Markets area of Belfast across the River Lagan from Short Strand.

Mr Davison had been shot a number of times while on his way to a community centre where he worked.

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.