IRA denies role in Belfast murder

The IRA has claimed it was not involved in the killing of Robert McCartney.

Mr McCartney, 33, was stabbed after a pub fight in Belfast two weeks ago. His family said republicans were pressuring witnesses not to talk to the police.

However, in an statement issued to a Belfast journalist, the IRA said no-one should hinder his family "in their search for truth and justice".

The statement also urged those involved in the murder to take responsibility for their actions.

Mr McCartney's family has called upon Sinn Fein to use its influence to make sure his killers "have nowhere to hide".

Earlier on Wednesday Sinn Fein Justice spokesman Gerry Kelly said his party is doing "all it can" to help the family.

Mr Kelly, who stopped short of urging people to go to the police, said he accepted the family's belief that some witnesses in the case had been intimidated.

After meeting with Consul General Dean Pittman on Wednesday, the family welcomed "belated comments" by Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams urging people to give information about the killing.

The murder victim's sister Claire McCartney said: "We are in full agreement that those involved did not 'act like republicans or on behalf of republicans'.

"However, the call for those with information to go to a solicitor, priest or ourselves raises questions such as what would this achieve? Would this bring Robert's murderers to justice? Would this secure convictions?

"We call upon Sinn Fein to bring all its influence to bear on those who have the power to ensure that these individuals are left with nowhere to hide.

"We are aware of Sinn Fein's policy on the police, but Sinn Fein, as other political parties, are capable of not being seen to take a certain course of action.

"These individuals must face justice if we are to move on from Robert's death. The community needs to feel safe and free also from these psychopaths."

In a statement issued after the talks, Mr Pittman said: "Political leaders hold a public trust and should, to the best of their ability, help guarantee the safety of those who cooperate with the police."

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