McCartneys’ intimidation claims rejected
McCartneys’ intimidation claims rejected

East Belfast residents involved in an exchange of words with the McCartney family on Wednesday afternoon have dismissed media reports that a dozen people were involved.

Reports in yesterday’s media said a dozen republicans surrounded the McCartney sisters as they handed out leaflets appealing for information about their brother’s murder.

Robert McCartney was killed in a knife-fight outside a Belfast city centre bar on 30 January following a row with republicans. The Provisional IRA expelled three members and seven Sinn Fein members were suspended over the incident.

Paula McCartney said a crowd gathered and “screamed abuse” at the family yesterday as they handed out leaflets.

She also said one of the crowd had threatened to put her out of the area and senior republicans were among the crowd.

However, Short Strand resident Mary King, who was involved in the incident, said only four people were involved - herself, her sister and two children.

“These reports are completely false,” she said.

“The only people there was me, my sister and two kids. My sister was handed a leaflet by the McCartneys and she let it drop to the ground, as is her choice.

“As soon as that happened the McCartneys started shouting abuse and one of them behaved really aggressively. They were shouting and swearing at us and then my son came and told us to leave it.

“I couldn’t believe it when I read there was a dozen people there and that threats had been made. Words were exchanged for sure, but that was it and it came from both sides.”

Paula McCartney said a dozen peopple had been involved and one woman “warned us that we were not to go round doors delivering leaflets and we are going to be put out of the area... I replied ‘Murderers’. I couldn’t contain myself.”

Sinn Fein councillor Joe O’Donnell described the incident as an altercation but said he would “condemn all those involved in intimidation”.

“I spoke to members of the McCartney family who said they had been abused, and residents who...said they had been abused and threatened by the McCartney family,” he said.

“In all of this, local residents’ privacy needs to be respected and the McCartney family are entitled to distribute leaflets if they believe it will help issues surrounding their brother’s murder.”

Criticism of the McCartney family has grown in the republican enclave as their campaign has become politicised and increasingly aligned with the election campaign of the SDLP party. The family has admitted receiving assistance from the SDLP’s local Westminster election candidate and funds channelled through the Labour Party in the 26 Counties.

Meanwhile, posters supporting one of those arrested over the killing have appeared in homes in the area.

Photographs of Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison with slogans including “I believe Jock” now front windows of several homes.

During a recent newspaper interview, Davison said he himself had been stabbed in the incident and described himself as “a victim of circumstances”.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News