There were angry scenes outside the court on Saturday where a man was charged with the highly controversial murder of Belfast man Robert McCartney. Another man, James McCormick, was charged on Saturday with the attempted murder of Mr McCartney’s friend Brendan Devine.
Families and friends of the two were outraged after it emerged there was not enough room inside the courtroom at Belfast’s Magistrate’s Court.
Davison was remanded in custody until July 1 on charges of stabbing Mr McCartney to death in a brawl outside a Belfast city centre bar on January 30. He is the uncle of Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison, who was previously arrested by the PSNI police for questioning in connection with the incident, but later released.
The incident received massive publicity amid allegations by the McCartney family that the Provis!onal IRA were attempting a cover-up. The IRA denied any involvement in the killing, but expelled three members alleged to have been responsible.
Sinn Féin also controversially suspended seven of its members and announced an inquiry after it emerged that the seven had been drinking inside the bar at the time.
The PSNI have been accused of deliberately delaying the charges in order to maximise negative publicity for Sinn Féin ahead of elections last month. It emerged this week that the PSNI have received over 250 statements in regard to the killing.
Unrest erupted outside the courthouse on Saturday after police refused entry to over 20 supporters of the accused, saying the court was filled to capacity.
However, the family members were outraged to learn that members of the media were going to be allowed in. A tense stand-off followed, with family members of the accused blocking the entrance so the Press could not go into the court. A compromise was eventually arrived at.
One of Mr McCartney’s sisters, Catherine, said: “We hope it will lead to further arrests because there were more than two people involved.”
“We still have a long way to go in terms of a trial and convictions. We are happy this has happened, but we know it is by no means over.”