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A FOR­MER IRA com­man­der in­ves­ti­gated for a mur­der which shook the North­ern Ire­land peace process has been shot dead in Belfast.

Ger­ard “Jock” Dav­i­son was gunned down yes­ter­day in the repub­li­can Mar­kets area near the city cen­tre. He was fa­tally wounded on Welsh Street at around 9am, po­lice said.

Mr Dav­i­son 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.

He was ques­tioned by po­lice but re­leased with­out charge.

Sinn Fein South Belfast Stor­mont as­sem­bly mem­ber Alex Maskey said: “What we have had here to­day is a very bru­tal killing of a lo­cal man.

“He is a very well-known per­son in this area. His fam­ily are well-known and he is very well-re­garded in this area as a long-stand­ing repub­li­can.”

A large cor­don was put up around the scene and a po­lice foren­sic tent was erected over the vic­tim’s body.

Small groups of lo­cal peo­ple and a num­ber of high-pro­file Belfast repub­li­cans stood at the po­lice line watch­ing scenes-of-crime of­fi­cers in white foren­sic suits spend most of the morn­ing car­ry­ing out de­tailed ex­am­i­na­tions of the area.

Most peo­ple were re­luc­tant to speak about the shoot­ing but have ex­pressed shock.

Mr McCart­ney’s sis­ters led a long-run­ning battle for jus­tice for the killing of their brother, fol­low­ing a bar ar­gu­ment, which took them to the White House.

The killing hap­pened at a time when Sinn Fein was un­der pres­sure to ac­cept the rule of law in North­ern Ire­land.

Its de­ci­sion to sup­port the po­lice two years later led to the for­ma­tion of a min­is­te­rial ex­ec­u­tive at Stor­mont and the shar­ing of power be­tween repub­li­cans and the DUP.

Mr Dav­i­son’s un­cle, Terence Dav­i­son, was later ac­quit­ted of Mr McCart­ney’s killing.

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