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1 June 2015 Edition

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Reaction to ‘Jock’ Davison killing highlights hierarchy of victims

• Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison was a respected pillar of the Markets community

More than 60 community organisations took out a full-page advertisement in 'The Irish News' on the day of Jock Davison’s funeral in which they lambasted ‘the ugly narrative that has emerged from some quarters following his murder’

IF REPUBLICANS ever needed confirmation that there is a hierarchy of victims in the North, then the killing of community activist Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison in Belfast on Tuesday morning 5 May would have given them that confirmation.

In the hours immediately after he was shot dead by a criminal gunman in the Markets area of south Belfast, as he went to work in the Markets Development Association, the media set about assassinating his character and reputation, effectively saying ‘If anyone deserved to be gunned down in the street then Jock Davison deserved what he got.’

In an angry response to what they called “revulsion at the insensitive and disgraceful media coverage” of the shooting, more than 60 community organisations (including GAA clubs, Irish-language groups and various human rights organisations) took out a full-page advertisement in The Irish News on Saturday 9 May – the day of Jock Davison’s funeral – in which they lambasted “the ugly narrative that has emerged from some quarters following his murder”.

They continued:

“Some have sought to dehumanise and depersonalise the real Jock [through] a barrage of speculative innuendo, including unsubstantiated and baseless allegations that has sought to criminalise his past and negate his present.”

Much of this coverage labelled the dead man an IRA leader and “feared gunman”, with the media turning to its lexicon of clichés as it set out a context that could only justify his death.

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• Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison

Allegations that he ordered the killing of Robert McCartney in a Belfast bar in 2005 were aired across the BBC and RTÉ. The fact that this allegation was never part of the evidence offered in the subsequent legal proceedings connected to the murder of Robert McCartney was completely ignored. The phrase ‘repeat a lie often enough and it becomes accepted as fact’ springs to mind.

The BBC was more interested in talking about the McCartney case than it was in reporting on the killing of Jock Davison.

The Irish News also set out to vilify Davison with a supplementary article about his uncle, Brendan ‘Ruby’ Davison, who was shot dead by a UVF death squad in 1988.

In line with the type of lazy journalism we have come to expect from some quarters, the article offered up inaccurate information to make the story fit. 

Another newspaper reported that Jock was in prison, on explosives charges, in the mid-1970s – as he was born in 1967, that means he was eight!

In contrast to the vilification heaped on Davison by the media, his funeral cortège took almost two hours to wind its way through the narrow streets of the Markets to the local memorial garden where a short ceremony was held in his honour. A former POW and friend of Jock, Patrick Fearon, delivered the oration.

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Jock's funeral took almost two hours to wind its way through the Markets area of Belfast

As the remains left the wake house, friends of Jock, including a number of ex-POWs, formed a guard of honour while the Tricolour was placed on his coffin.

As a republican activist in the aftermath of the 1981 Hunger Strikes, Jock was imprisoned in Hydebank Prison and on release returned to active service.

During his years as an activist through the 1980s and 1990s, Jock earned the respect of those who knew him. 

It was this same determination that Jock Davison brought to his work in the Markets community over the last ten years. 

According to the statement signed by the community groups and printed in the media, Jock “took on the highly challenging organising role in a working-class community that suffers disproportionately from historic neglect and socio-economic marginalisation”.

That is how those who knew him will choose to remember Jock. 

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Hundreds turn out for a vigil in memory of Jock Davison

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