A SHADOWY dissident republican terror group has claimed it shot dead a man found in a lake in north Belfast for alleged drug dealing.
In a statement to the Irish News newspaper, the ‘New IRA’ alleged it murdered Kevin Kearney “in response to complaints from within our community”.
It claimed to have “carried out an investigation” into Mr Kearney at the request of the local community.
The statement to the Irish News added that it had “issued him with a warning that he was no longer welcome in our community”.
“(Mr) Kearney refused to head this warning and carried on with his activities.
“As a consequence, the IRA made the decision to execute him.”
The group issued a chilling warning to drug dealers operating in north Belfast.
“Anyone engaged in this vile activity should desist at once or suffer the consequences.
“It will not be tolerated and no amount of ‘palm greasing’ and ‘back hander’s will make it tolerable.”
It is the second murder claimed by the group which formed last year following the amalgamation of the Real IRA and a vigilante group called ‘RAAD’ – Republican Action Against Dissidents.
The terror group shot dead prison officer David Black on the M1 motorway last November as he drove to Maghaberry prison..
Kevin Kearney, a father-of-four, who is originally from the Ardoyne, was reported missing by his partner from Dunmore housing estate after failing to return home on Tuesday.
Mr Kearney had left home to take his dogs for a walk.
He was found on Wednesday afternoon in a lake at Alexandra Park just off the Antrim Road.
Following the discovery of his body around 3.30 pm on Wednesday afternoon, the PSNI’s Serious Crime Branch launched a murder probe.
A post-mortem examination is expected to be carried out later on Thursday to try and establish a cause of death.
Detectives want to hear from anyone who was in the park between 8.30 am and 9.30 am Tuesday.
North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said that the local community is shocked about a murder inquiry in the area.
The DUP MP said: “The police have confirmed that a body was found this afternoon in the water at Alexandra Park.
“The body was found in suspicious circumstances and the police have launched a murder investigation.
The entire community will share in the sense of shock at this appalling news. I understand that the identity of the deceased is known to the police.
“Our thoughts are with the family of the deceased. I appeal for anyone who can assist the police investigation to pass on whatever information they have,” he added.