A former leader of the Continuity IRA has been gunned down by dissident Republicans in West Belfast.
Tommy Crossan was shot dead in broad daylight in an industrial estate in the Republican heartland.
A 26-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the murder, carried out in full view of local houses.
The Irish Independent reports that a priest prayed over Crossan’s body.
The former Continuity IRA leader was the subject of a death threat from dissidents opposed to the peace process.
Nationalist SDLP councillor Colin Keenan said: “We have long hoped that the shadow of death had been lifted from West Belfast. Today’s event is a terrible, tragic reminder of the violent conflict of the past.”
Sinn Fein Stormont Assembly member Jennifer McCann told the paper that those responsible for the murder had no consideration for anyone in the community except themselves and their own criminal agenda.
She said: “There is now a family in mourning and a community traumatised by this shooting.
“It will not go unnoticed that, with sadness, at Easter time as republicans gather to commemorate their patriot dead, that there are criminals on the streets masquerading as republicans for their own ends.”
Crossan was well known to police and had served time in prison for conspiracy to murder officers following a gun attack on a police station in West Belfast in 1998.
He once told the Observer newspaper: “Bobby Sands (the IRA hunger striker) is one of my great heroes . . . I was 10 when he died, that’s when I became interested in republicanism – but everything he fought for has been sold out.
“Prisoners like him died for political status, and now it’s being taken away from republicans at a time Sinn Fein are doing something they vowed they would never do - sit in a Stormont government.”