Top republican 'Jock' Davison gunned down in Markets area of Belfast
Updated at 15.57 -- Top Belfast republican Gerard 'Jock' Davison, 47, has been brutally gunned down in broad daylight in Belfast.
Despite early speculation, it is still unclear who is behind the murder.
Davison was quizzed by police over the 2005 death of Robert McCartney.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said officers were responding to an incident in the Markets area of the city.
In a statement released on Tuesday afternoon, Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Justyn Galloway, from the PSNI's Serious Crime Branch, said: “At around 9am this morning 47 year old Jock Davison was walking along Welsh Street in the Markets area of Belfast when he was shot a number of times. Despite the efforts of local people and paramedics, he tragically died at the scene.
"Gerard Davison was known to everyone as Jock. He was 47, a father, grandfather, brother and son. He was a high profile community worker in the area in recent years and a prominent member of the Markets Development Association. In fact, Mr Davison was walking to a local community centre where he worked when he was shot.
"This was a cold-blooded murder carried out in broad daylight in a residential area and it has no place in the new Northern Ireland.
"We have detectives in the Markets area making house to house enquiries and seeking to identify witnesses. I would appeal to local people to co-operate with them and give them any information they have. The murder has been condemned by local politicians and I am grateful for their appeals for people to co-operate with police.
"I am appealing for information from anyone who saw the shooting or what happened immediately afterwards in Welsh Street at 9am this morning.
"We have set up an Incident Room at Musgrave police station. I would appeal to anyone with information to contact us on the non-emergency number 101 or, if they don’t want to give their details, by using the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."
The Ambulance Service have confirmed that they were called to the scene at 9.00am. Stanfield Street and Welsh Street have now been cordoned off. Davison was pronounced dead by police a short time later.
Ulster Unionist South Belfast MLA, Michael McGimpsey, said: “I unreservedly condemn this morning’s murder of a man in the Market area of central Belfast.
“The people of this city had hoped that we had left such days behind us. There is no excuse whatsoever for this murder and I would appeal to anyone with information to contact the Police immediately.”
Sinn Féin MLA, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, said: "There is shock in the local area that this man has been shot dead in such a callous fashion in broad daylight while on his way to work.
"The victim is from the area and well known for his work in the community sector. Local people are shocked and angered by what has happened and I would appeal to people to remain calm.
"I unreservedly condemn his brutal killing and I call on the PSNI to bring his killers to justice.
"Anyone with any information on this killing should bring it forward immediately to the PSNI.”
After the murder of Robert McCartney outside Magennis's bar in Belfast in January 2005, Davison was questioned by police.
McCartney, 33, had been beaten and stabbed to death following an altercation in the bar after he tried to stand up for his friend, Brendan Devine.
After the murder, Davison responded to claims that he had been 'protected' by the investigation police team because he was a 'tout'.
At the time he told the press: "I never, ever gave any information on my comrades or my friends during my 25 years in the republican movement. Any republican who knows me knows this.
"There is not one shred of truth in this suggestion that I was an agent.
"I have no fear there is a scrap of evidence which proves I ever gave information.
"I also think it's important for the (Police) Ombudsman to explore the police investigation into this case."
A spokesperson for the Markets Development Association, of which Davison was a member, said: "The Committee and staff of the Markets Development Association strongly condemn the cowardly murder by criminal elements of our colleague Gerard Davison who worked so tirelessly to enhance the quality of life for the people of the Market community.
"This was a callous attack, not only on Gerard, but indeed, on the community as a whole.
"The Markets Development Association would like to extend its deepest sympathies to the family of Gerard and extend our heartfelt gratitude for the hard work, commitment and time which Gerard dedicated to the community and its people. His loss will be keenly felt."