Man shot dead in front of children by Real IRA 'punishment squad'

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The Independent Online

A man was murdered in front of some of his six children by two Real IRA men yesterday after a row with dissident republicans flared out of control.

Daniel McGurk, 35, was shot three times in an apparent "punishment shooting gone wrong" at his home in the Lower Falls area of West Belfast when he opened the front door to the killers.

He is said to have taken a knife and gone in search of the men the previous day in revenge for a beating they had given to him three days earlier.

Mr McGurk, who was hit in the chest, thigh and ankle, died later in the Royal Victoria Hospital. His partner and at least some of his children were at home with him when the gunmen called.

Even though the shooting took place in the staunchly republican west Belfast, security sources immediately ruled out any Provisional IRA involvement.

Police believe renegade republicans opposed to the Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness and their support for the Northern Ireland peace process were behind the murder.

Neighbours said a dispute broke out between Mr McGurk, who was not attached to any organisation, and Real IRA men after he was accused of urinating against a house in the area.

"He got a hammering a few days ago and then he went looking for them with a knife last night [Saturday]," said one. "But they decided to get their retaliation in first and just shot him dead."

Detectives believe the murder could have been a punishment shooting that went too far. "Because he was shot in the ankle it may have been one that went wrong or just got out of control," one detective said.

"I wouldn't even say this was the result of any feud. He could just have offended somebody and ended up getting this. There was no forced entry. The door was open and he let them in."

Fra McCann, a Sinn Fein councillor for west Belfast, said he was stunned by the killing. "I know this man and his family and I am shocked at this incident.

"Although details of what happened are not yet clear, there can be no possible excuse or justification for the murder of this man," he said.

Margaret Walsh, an SDLP councillor, said: "If people have a concern with someone's behaviour they should deal with it through the proper channels.

"Those responsible for this attack are murderers. They have left a wife without her husband and six children without their father."