NewsCrime Desk

Two people arrested in connection with the murder of Kevin McGuigan

Hit: Kevin McGuigan
Hit: Kevin McGuigan

Two people have been arrested by detectives investigating the shooting of a prominent republican in Belfast.

Father-of-nine Kevin McGuigan, 53, was gunned down at point blank range in front of his wife Dolores by two masked men outside the couple's home in the republican Short Strand area on Wednesday night.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said a 44-year-old man and 39-year-old woman had been arrested in east Belfast on Thursday as part of the "overall investigation".

They are being questioned by detectives from the PSNI's serious crime unit at a Belfast station.

Mr McGuigan was suspected by some in the republican movement of involvement in the murder of former IRA leader Gerard "Jock" Davison in the nearby Markets area of Belfast three months ago.

This has triggered widespread speculation the murder was a revenge attack carried out by Mr Davison's erstwhile associates in the IRA. If IRA involvement was proven there would be major implications for the peace process in Northern Ireland.

Stormont's First Minister Peter Robinson has warned Sinn Fein it would face expulsion from the power-sharing Executive if the IRA was responsible. However, Sinn Fein has vehemently rejected the suggestion of IRA involvement.

The officer leading the investigation, Detective Chief Inspector John McVea, said Mr McGuigan was spoken to by detectives probing the Davison murder, but as a witness not a suspect.

Read: Kevin McGuigan murder was 'retaliation for Jock Davison murder'.