‘Tragic reminder of violent past conflict’
By Jilly Beattie, Chris Sherrard
18 April 2014
Dad-of-four gunned down on Springfield Road around 5pm after threats from former republican colleagues
Ex Continuity IRA chief Tommy Crossan was blasted to death in broad daylight on Friday evening.
The dad-of-four was shot seven times including once in the head by a gang who strong-armed him into a fuel depot in West Belfast.
Sources understand that prominent dissident republican Crossan was executed after he was accused by former colleagues of being a British agent and touting to the PSNI and MI5 about high-profile dissident republicans.
A gang of three men in a red BMW car are believed to have carried out the killing. It was found burnt-out two streets away minutes after the shooting.
The incident happened shortly before his daughter, Joanie, drove into the area to fill her car with diesel.
One local resident said: “It is terrible for his wife and children but other than that there’s little sympathy for Tommy Crossan on this street.
“You reap what you sow and he has been part of a wrecking ball in our community and now he is gone.
“He was warned.”
A heavy police presence filtered into the Springfield Road area at 5.15pm after the shooting.
Officers in a dozen police vehicles including members of the Tactical Support Group were at the scene and were on high alert. They helped escorted a cross-community group visiting the area moments after the shooting to safety.
As the PSNI helicopter maintained a presence overhead a large group of family and friends, many of them weeping, gathered outside the building where Crossan had met his bloody end.
Dozens of local children clambered around police vehicles demanding to know where the dead body was.
Fr Tony Devlin, the parish priest of St Paul’s Catholic Church on the Falls Road, gave the last rites.
The Lord Mayor of Belfast condemned the murder:
Máirtín Ó Muilleoir @newbelfast: Shame on those who bring death to Belfast streets at Eastertide. They represent no-one but themselves and have no place in our great city.
Crossan had been defying a death threat by rival dissident republicans since 2011.
He received the threat from former comrades when masked gunmen accused him of being a British agent and ordered him to leave. They threatened: “Get out of Ireland or be killed.”
But Crossan told a Belfast newspaper: “I’m going nowhere. My conscience is clear. I’m no tout and never would be. It goes against everything I believe.
“I haven’t stolen Continuity IRA money and I haven’t been involved in robberies. These liars are trying to criminalise me and drive me from my home. But I’m here to stay.”
Speaking from the scene SDLP Councillor Colin Keenan, who lives nearby this afternoon’s incident, said: “I condemn this murder completely and in doing so I reflect the view of all of the community.
“There is a real sense of shock that this has happened.
“I was on the scene shortly after this tragic event and I extend my heartfelt sympathy to the victim’s family.
“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.”
Forensic experts were quickly on the scene of the murder.