Irish Republican News · February 27, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRA statement welcomed

The McCartney family have welcomed a statement by the Provisional IRA revealing the expulsion of three of its members and urging them to take responsibility for their actions in the death of Belfast man Robert McCartney

Mr McCartney, from the republican Short Strand are of east Belfast, died after being stabbed in a drunken brawl outside a city centre bar in which IRA members were alleged to be involved.

One man has now been arrested in connection with the incident, and others are expected to follow.

The McCartneys welcomed the IRA statement, which they said had removed obstacles to witnesses who were afraid to come forward with vital information and evidence. However, they stressed they wanted more people to co-operate with the investigation by the PSNI police, despite the force’s deep unpopularity with the people of the Short Strand enclave.

In their statement, the IRA said its volunteers “fully understand that they are bound by rules and regulations and a code of conduct.

“There will be no tolerance of anyone who steps outside of these rules, regulations or code.

“Anyone who brings the IRA into disrepute will be held accountable.”

Hundreds attended a rally in the Short Strand enclave today to demand justice in the case.

Paula McCartney told the crowd: “Without the support of this community and others, we believe that our cry for justice would have gone unheeded like so many others.

“We hope and pray over the coming days and weeks those responsible for Robert’s murder and in the cover and clean-up operation will do the patriotic and right thing and hand themselves over and tell all they know truthfully.”

The rally was attended and supported by Sinn Féin leaders in the city.

The close-knit Short Strand community has been riven by the incident, with old divisions between different factions of republicanism emerging as criticism mounted of the Provisional IRA and allegations it was aiding a cover-up.

The family’s support for police investigators and demands for a conviction in the courts posed further problems for republicans, scores of whom are thought to have witnessed the fight.

Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams, confirmed that he had a face-to-face meeting with the sisters of Robert McCartney on Thursday.

Speaking in Dublin on Friday, Mr Adams said that Mr McCartney’s partner, Bridgeen, and his father were also at the meeting, which he described as positive.

He also welcomed the IRA statement, and revealed that, if he had been in the bar at the time, he would be making himself amenable to the courts at the request of the dead man’s family.

The IRA statement was “very positive development”, he said. It was the duty of everyone to try and help the McCartney family in their desire for justice.

“As a republican I would make myself available to the courts as the McCartney family have asked,” he said.

“I say that mindful of all the difficulties that we have had trying to straighten out and get a proper judicial system and so on, but I think that this is such a serious situation,” he said.

Some 70 people are thought to have come forward following appeals to do so, including over twenty in the last ten days.

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© 2005 Irish Republican News