Short Strand shooting: PSNI ‘must act quickly to stop potential republican feud’

Police have been urged to act quickly to quell any possible escalation of a paramilitary feud after a prominent republican was shot on a Belfast street.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 26th January 2020, 6:36 pm
Updated Sunday, 26th January 2020, 7:16 pm
The shooting happened in the Short Strand area of east Belfast on Saturday night
The shooting happened in the Short Strand area of east Belfast on Saturday night

It is understood the victim of the shooting in the Short Strand on Saturday night was arrested in 2015 as part of the investigation into the murder of Kevin McGuigan.

After Saturday’s shooting he was taken to hospital for treatment for his injuries which are not life-threatening due to the fact he was wearing a bulletproof vest.

UUP MLA Doug Beattie urged the police to act quickly: “There is talk that this is an extension of the feud involving the murders (of Jock Davison and Kevin McGuigan).”

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Mr Beattie added: “There’s always a worry that the feud is rumbling on.

“Whether or not this is linked to the feud is speculation. What is absolutely clear, however, is that somebody brought a weapon onto the streets and that’s a big concern.

“If it’s linked to terrorism, dissidents or an internal Provisional IRA feud then there is real concern. The chief constable needs to take action and he needs to take action very quickly.

“These things can quickly spiral out of control unless decisive action is taken very quickly.

“There are lots of questions for the police. They’ll get a lot of information when they do the ballistics tests.

“I imagine the round that was fired has been recovered. That will be able to tell them whether or not it is from a weapon that has been previously used in other terrorist activity or is associated with criminality.

“There’s lots of questions, the police need to get on and do their job and do it with vigour.”

Police have appealed for witnesses following the shooting.

They said the victim of the shooting was walking in the area around 7.45pm when he was shot.

A PSNI spokesman said: “Guns have no place in our community.

“We are fortunate that we are not dealing with a fatality following this disgraceful attack in which a firearm was discharged in a residential area in the early evening.

“The people undertaking these attacks do not represent our communities.”

Sinn Fein policing spokesperson Gerry Kelly condemned the attack saying: “Thankfully the man has not been seriously hurt but it appears this was an attempt to kill or injure him.

“There is no place for guns in our society and those responsible for the attack must be taken off the streets and should face due process in the courts.

“I appeal to anyone with information to bring it forward to the police and assist the police investigation in any way possible.”

Condemning the attack East Belfast MLA Chris Lyttle said: “It is long past the time that guns were taken off our streets for good and people were able to live without fear of attack.

“Whoever was behind this despicable attack must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

“It was fortunate this man was not killed and I would urge anyone with information to pass it to the police so those responsible can be brought to justice.”