IRA BACKS FAMILY OF MURDER VICTIM
The Provisional IRA has said it will not protect any republican
alleged to have been involved in the death of a Belfast man
earlier this month.
The stabbing of Robert McCartney in a Belfast pub fight on
January 30 has generated controversy beyond the strongly
republican Short Strand area of east Belfast.
Mr McCartney was stabbed to death and a companion was injured
after a fight broke out and appeared to snowball at Magennis's
Relatives of the deceased have claimed that the IRA has sought
to prevent PSNI police identifying the killers and have also
alleged that one or more members of the IRA were involved.
The PSNI last week said that the IRA was not responsible for Mr
McCartney's death. However, their attempts to search homes in
the republican enclave were resisted by local residents,
prompting allegations of an IRA 'cover-up'.
The McCartney family has called for residents to support the
police in the matter and have said they want to see the accused
men tried in court. This has exacerbated tensions with those
republicans who support the family but oppose the British police
and judicial system.
In a statement on Wednesday night, the IRA said: "We wish to
extend our sympathy to the McCartney family for the loss of
Robert and for the grief that they are suffering.
"The IRA was not involved in the brutal killing of Robert
"Those who were involved must take responsibility for their own
actions, which run contrary to republican ideals.
"It has been reported that people are being intimidated or
prevented from assisting the McCartney family in their search
for truth and justice.
"We wish to make it absolutely clear that no one should hinder
or impede the McCartney family in their search for truth and
justice. Anyone who can help the family in this should do so."
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said that no one involved in the
killing acted as a republican or on behalf of republicans.
"I repudiate this brutal killing in the strongest terms
possible. No one has any right, as has been claimed, to prevent
anyone from helping the McCartney family. "
The dead man's sister Paula said people were reluctant to come
forward with information.
"It's a taboo subject, no one is allowed to speak about it,"
Mr McCartney's fiancee and mother of his two children, Bridgeen
Hagans, says she was shocked.
"It's unbelievable," she said. "I thought once someone
someone the police got them and that was it, especially when
they know who they are."
Sinn Fein policing and justice spokesperson Gerry Kelly said
that attempts had been made to turn the incident into "a
political football about Sinn Fein's position on policing. This
will not assist the McCartney family. The family know our
position on policing.
"Our position is clear - People with reservations about
assisting the PSNI should give any information they might have
either to the family, a solicitor or any other authoritative or
reputable person or body."