Senior Irish politicians condemned the murder of a former IRA commander yesterday morning.

Formerly one of the Provisional IRA’s most senior Belfast members, Gerard “Jock” Davison was shot at least once in the back of the head early yesterday morning in the Markets area of South Belfast. The shooting took place in front of children on their way to school, close to the office where Davison worked as a local community officer for the Markets Development Association.

Despite his former superior position within the PIRA, Davison was one of the most senior pro-peace republicans in recent years. Sinn Féin are blaming “criminal elements” for his murder.

Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan T.D, condemned the murder as well as recent attacks in Derry and Belfast. He said they “displayed a callous disregard for others and undermine the greater good.”

"This murder in the Markets area of Belfast was particularly heinous,” he continued, “taking place in a residential area, when people were going to work and children to school.

Forensics at scene of this morning's murder in the Markets area of Belfast @irish_news pic.twitter.com/v7HMDBIZpD

— Allison Morris (@AllisonMorris1) May 5, 2015

"Those who murder, or who attempt to do so, seek only to bring us back to a past which the community has left behind. I call on anyone with information on these attacks to bring it to the attention of the PSNI.”

Yesterday morning’s events make Davison the most senior pro-peace republican to be killed since the 1997 IRA ceasefire. Davison, 47, supported Sinn Féin’s strategy for peace.

Security sources stated that they do not believe the murder to be work of any Loyalist group but may have come from within the nationalist community. They believe that the murder may be a result of a longstanding grudge against the victim.

Scene of this morning's murder police have area sealed off, former IRA commander shot dead in the street @irish_news pic.twitter.com/Je2Kmxhj5A

— Allison Morris (@AllisonMorris1) May 5, 2015

Detective Chief Inspector Justyn Galloway told the Daily Mail, “I do not believe it is sectarian.”

“I do not believe dissident republicans have been involved. However, we will keep an open mind as information comes into the inquiry.

“Many people in Northern Ireland have a past, but that is in the past and there is no justification for the gunning down of this community worker.”

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, who had known Davison for decades, has also condemned the shooting. “This brutal act will be condemned by all sensible people,” he said. ”There can be no place today for such actions.”

Davison came from a family closely affiliated with the PIRA throughout the Troubles. He rose through their ranks in Belfast throughout the 80s becoming commanding officer in the city and sitting on the organization’s general headquarters staff.

Sinn Fein's @AlexMaskeyMLA at the scene of today's murder @irish_news pic.twitter.com/8xosU1x1oR

— Allison Morris (@AllisonMorris1) May 5, 2015

Davison was previously questioned over his alleged role in the fight that led to the death of 33-year old Robert McCartney in January 2005. Despite McCartney’s sister claiming in her 2007 book, “Walls of Silence,” that Davison ordered the murder of her brother, nobody has ever been convicted for his death. Davison was among three IRA members expelled following an internal investigation in the wake of the death, although he always denied any involvement.

Speaking to the Sunday Times at the time, Davison said, “I’m no tout.”

“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.”

Amongst the other politicians to condemn the death was local Alliance party councillor Paula Bradshaw. She told the Guardian, “Guns have no place on our streets – those responsible for this vicious crime are a danger to our society and must be urgently apprehended by the police. Whoever carried out this murder must be taken off our streets and brought before the courts to face justice for their horrific crimes.”

The scene in the Markets area of Belfast where a former IRA commander was shot dead in the street.The Irish News/Twitter