Irish Republican News · March 18, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
McCartneys hit the top

A sister of Robert McCartney has said the family’s campaign for the killers to hand themselves into the police “can’t go any higher” following a meeting with US President George Bush at the White House.

Gemma McCartney, her four sisters and Mr McCartney’s partner Bridgeen Hagans had a private meeting with Mr Bush.

“The White House is the political capital of the world. We can’t go any higher than we did here today,” she said.

“Now I am waiting on the grieving process to really kick in when things die down.

“It really is up to Robert’s killers to hand themselves in now. We need them to hand themselves to the police. It doesn’t mean our campaign is over though,” she said.

Robert McCartney was killed by a group of Belfast men following a drinking session at a Belfast bar January 30th. The fight later moved outside, where Mr McCartney was fatally stabbed. The killers later destroyed evidence which could link them to Mr McCartney’s death.

Members of the Provisional IRA are alleged to have been involved, and three members have already been expelled from the organisation. Despite reservations about dealing with the British PSNI police, republicans have co-operated with the investigation, and scores have come forward to give evidence.

The facts of the case are not disputed. Sinn Fein has backed the family’s pursuit of justice through the British court system. However, the PSNI have been unusually slow to press charges in the case. Political opponents have used the case to attack Sinn Fein ahead of important elections in the North of Ireland in less than seven weeks time.

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams has warned that the increasing exploitation of the McCartney case for political ends should not remove the focus away from the family’s campaign for justice or genuine peace efforts in Ireland.

Mr Adams was speaking from the US, where the issue of the North of Ireland was dominating headlines.

The West Belfast MP said he supported the McCartney family’s campaign and expressed concern that media coverage of the matter was being manipulated by those with a political agenda.

“Let there be no doubt that factions of the media as well as political opponents of Sinn Fein have very opportunistically exploited this man’s killing,” he said in Washington.

Mr Adams said he had gone as far as he could, even giving names to the police ombudsman personally, to get the killers convicted.

“I couldn’t pursue justice for victims of British brutality or those killed working for the British system if I wasn’t just as resolute in defending the rights of this family,” he said.

But Mr Adams expressed amazement about the way in which the PSNI investigation was being conducted, particularly after a number of key witnesses were turned away.

“I have asked why there has been no identity parade, why, when a key witness came forward on Monday, he was told there was nobody there to interview him, and why another key suspect was told the same thing,” he said.

“I can’t imagine another situation where, if there was a high profile murder like this one, a chief suspect would come forward and be told to come back another day.”

Mr Adams, speaking after meeting US envoy to Mitchell Reiss in Washington, said he was disappointed Senator Ted Kennedy had cancelled a planned meeting. Republicans have accused Mr Kennedy, whose office portrayed the murder as an IRA action, of being poorly advised in the matter.

Standing beside the McCartneys, Senator Kennedy told CNN: “There’s no question Sinn Fein and the IRA are involved in a cover-up there. Gerry Adams has to free himself.”

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© 2005 Irish Republican News