February 13, 2005
Family accuse IRA men of murder
by Suzanne Breen
The family of a man fatally stabbed outside a Belfast city-centre
bar a fortnight ago has accused Provisional IRA members, who are also
Sinn Féin election workers, of his murder.
Robert McCartney (33) was stabbed in the stomach, kicked, punched
and beaten with sewer rods. His friend, Brendan Devine, who was also
stabbed and beaten, remains under police guard at Belfast's Royal
A gun was produced, although not used, during the attack outside
Magennis's bar. The McCartneys said the murder was more important than
the Northern Bank robbery and they would not rest until the killers
Speaking from her home in the Short Strand area of Belfast,
McCartney's sister Paula said: "We are an ordinary, working-class
nationalist family. We are not securocrats out to ruin the peace
"Robert voted Sinn Féin. Our mother voted Sinn Féin, two of my
sisters voted Sinn Féin. We have no political agenda. We are simply
seeking justice for our brother.
"There has been a huge outcry about the Northern Bank raid.
Robert's murder raises far more questions than any robbery. No amount
of money, even £26 million, is more important than a human life."
The names of the six IRA men involved in the attack are known to
the Sunday Tribune but cannot be published for legal reasons. They are
from the Short Strand and Market area of Belfast.
The most senior is the operations' officer of the IRA's general
headquarters (GHQ) staff. He is a former Belfast Brigade OC. The men
have a reputation for thuggery and many complaints have been made
about them to Sinn Féin over the years.
They have all acted as Sinn Féin election workers, and one was a
bodyguard for Martin McGuinness when he visited Queen's University
The McCartneys said they knew the attack was the work of
individual Provisionals and wasn't authorised by the leadership.
Police sources confirmed this.
However, the family accused the IRA of "a cover-up" to protect the
senior figure involved. They blamed the Provisionals for a campaign of
intimidation to silence the community and frustrate the police
Paula McCartney said: "The IRA was involved in a clean-up
operation in the bar so there would be no forensic evidence. The IRA
"The IRA visited the local community centre and ordered people not
to talk to the police and media, not even to talk to each other, about
the murder. This raises very serious questions for Sinn Féin."
The McCartneys are considering presenting the names of their
brother's killers to Gerry Adams, and asking how he thinks the family
can find justice.
Paula McCartney stressed they wanted to pursue the matter in a
purely peaceful manner through the courts. Robert McCartney, a father
of two, worked as a doorman in a local nightclub. His partner Bridgeen
said she was "disgusted" by the murder.