A gunman entered a house in Belfast and shot dead a man in the living room in front of young children in an incident that has been blamed on a "political vacuum" in the British province, it has been reported.

The gunman is said to have entered the house in Glenbawn Avenue, Poleglass around 8pm on Tuesday (13 February) before opening fire on the victim who is believed to be in his 20s.

MP for Belfast West, Paul Maskey, told the Belfast Telegraph: "It is a brutal attack that was carried out in front of young children.

"This has to be condemned outright. There is no call for this, it is shocking, it is horrifying. The community is horrified. This action has to be stopped and stopped immediately."

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has launched a murder investigation and a motive is not yet clear but the Telegraph said that the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) has criticised Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) for the political vacuum that allowed such attacks to happen.

SDLP councillor Brian Heading told the paper that it was "not a punishment attack, this was a shooting with the intent to kill.

"Obviously I condemn the attack, but it has to go deeper than that and I condemn the two main parties for creating the political vacuum that exists.

"They need to be aware their failure is resulting in people who settle their differences by shooting first and asking questions later being allowed to terrorise their communities," Heading said.

There has been a 13-month stalemate in the British province between Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) who are unable to form a government at Stormont. Talks between the British prime minister Theresa May and Northern Ireland's main political parties were unable to break the deadlock.

Sinn Fein councillor Stephen Magennis said: "The people carrying out these attacks are bringing nothing but death and destruction. They need to be condemned and should get off the backs of this community," the Belfast Telegraph reported.