Gun murders are now rare in Ulster, and need to remain so

Morning View
Morning View

The shooting dead of a man in the Short Strand comes only weeks after the murder of Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison in the nearby Markets area.

According to social media speculation, the two killings may be linked, but we will probably discover more about the circumstances in the coming days.

The public is still unclear, however, who killed Mr Davison or exactly why.

The latest murder is deplorable, and if it is indeed linked to the May shooting, it is a troubling indication of a possible feud in republican circles.

It is now more than a decade since Robert McCartney was murdered in an apparent fight with members of the Provisional IRA.

That killing caused a widespread sense of revulsion that spread across the Atlantic, and led to republicans being bitterly criticised by senior American politicians, some of whom would rarely have criticised republican paramilitary activity.

No-one who is objective about paramilitary groups would be surprised, however, that they lost control of their violent members from time to time (or indeed that they carried out sexual abuse on occasions).

Happily, society in Northern Ireland is much less violent than it was between the end of the 1960s and the late 1990s.

The security forces are securing steady successes against dissident and loyalist thugs.

It is much harder for terrorist groups, or organised criminals of any description, to kill or to defraud or profiteer.

This is why the introduction of the National Crime Agency in Northern Ireland was so welcome, when the SDLP finally dropped its opposition, and was prepared to isolate Sinn Fein.

Keeping the lid on terror is also a reason why the security forces, including the intelligence agencies, need full support.

Killings such as the one carried out last night are rare. They need to stay that way.