The PSNI officer leading the investigation into the murder of 53-year-old Kevin McGuigan in Belfast last night has said it was a ruthless and premeditated killing carried out in front of the victim’s wife.

DCI John McVea said it would be reckless and dangerous to speculate at this time when asked if there was IRA involvement in the murder.

First Minister Peter Robinson said there would be repercussions for Stormont's power sharing assembly if it is proven the Provisional IRA was behind the murder.

Sinn Féin has denied there was any involvement by the IRA.

Mr McGuigan, a former IRA prisoner, died after being shot at about 9pm yesterday in the Comber Court area of the Short Strand.

He had been out with his wife, and had just gotten out of his car and was walking towards his house when he was shot at least six times at close range by two masked men.

He was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Detectives are believed to be examining whether the shooting was linked to the murder of former IRA leader Jock Davison in the nearby Markets, another republican area, three months ago.

Mr McGuigan was questioned about Mr Davison's murder.

It is understood Mr McGuigan was injured in a paramilitary "punishment" attack a number of years ago.

Police have appealed to any witnesses who were in the area at the time of last night's shooting to contact them.