Attack linked to McCartney dispute
Attack linked to McCartney dispute

Republicans have been blamed for an attack on a friend of Robert McCartney in east Belfast on Monday night.

Jeff Commander received a head injury in an assault in the Clandeboye area of Belfast, close to the Short Strand.

Mr Commander was in Magennis’s bar with Robert McCartney on the night he was stabbed to death in a dispute outside a Belfast bar in January. The Provisional IRA later expelled three members believed to have been involved in the killing.

An unprecedented international campaign drew attention to the killing in advance of the British general election last May. Two men are currently being prosecuted for the murder, although the McCartney family continues to call for justice.

Mr Commander said the attack was not authorised by the Provisional IRA, but that a number of ‘known republicans’ were involved. The attack is understood to have followed a row between the McCartney family and local residents.

Tensions linger in the area over the incident, with the McCartney family claiming that they have suffered intimidation as a result of their anti-IRA campaign.

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly commenting on the incidents, said they “benefit no one in the Short Strand”.

“Sinn Féin was in no way involved but is encouraging mediation to deal with these disputes,” he said.

“Sinn Féin is totally opposed to intimidation of any type no matter where it comes from or who it is aimed at. Intimidation is wrong and should not be happening.”

Meanwhile, the sisters of murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney are supporting the family of Dublin man Joseph Rafferty, whose family claim he was shot dead by a member of the Provisional IRA in April.

Following a meeting in Belfast yesterday with Mr Rafferty’s sister Esther Uzell, Catherine McCartney, a sister of Robert McCartney, said: “The incidents around Joseph’s death are very similar to our own.”

Mr Rafferty’s family has already met Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Labour leader Pat Rabbitte. A meeting with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is also planned.

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