Man held over 'IRA bar killing'

Robert McCartney, 33, was killed near Belfast city centre

A man has been arrested in Belfast in connection with the killing of Robert McCartney, police have said.

It is understood he handed himself in at Musgrave Street police station in the city and was accompanied by his solicitor.

It follows the expulsion of three IRA members over suspected involvement in the killing following a row in a bar last month.

The McCartney family welcomed the move but said it did not go far enough.

The 33-year-old father of two died in hospital after being stabbed.

Mr McCartney's sister Catherine, said all of those involved in the killing should now come forward.

"The IRA investigation was carried out behind closed doors therefore we are not accepting or confirming that outline," she said.

"The only way the family will know the truth is if we can hear witnesses' statements in a court.

"We believed that between 12 and 20 people were involved in the events of that night. Not all of them, we understand, were IRA members but we want all people to be encouraged or persuaded or to hand themselves in."

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams also said that if he had witnessed the murder he would give evidence in court.

Mr Adams said "any self respecting republican" had a responsibility to come forward if they witnessed the fatal assault.

"Had I found myself in Magennis's Bar and was caught up in these dreadful events, I would now be making myself available to the court as the McCartney family have asked," Mr Adams told the BBC's Today programme on Saturday.

'Pretend purge'

"I say that mindful of all the difficulties that we have had trying to straighten out and get a proper judicial system and so on, but I think that this is such a serious situation."

The IRA said one of those expelled made a statement to a solicitor and called on the others to take responsibility.

Two of the men dismissed were described by the IRA as "high ranking volunteers".

The expulsions came after what the IRA called "an investigation" into last month's killing.

DUP assembly member Ian Paisley Jnr said: "No one should be fooled by this diversionary tactic of a pretend purge of the IRA ranks.

"The statement only highlights the confusion that exists within the IRA who last week told us they were not involved in criminality and tonight pretend they have purged those who are criminals."

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said that, whilst he welcomes the IRA shift in position, he does not believe it will lead to justice being done in court.

"It was only through the challenge of the McCartney family that Sinn Fein has had to take a different track that comes a bit closer to the truth but doesn't come the whole way to justice," he said.

Ulster Unionist Sir Reg Empey said unless the expulsions were accompanied "by the names of the individuals involved in a way that will lead to police prosecution", the statement would be viewed as little other than "a cynical face-saving exercise".

The IRA statement came 24 hours after Mr Adams met the McCartney family.

The family had accused republicans of pressuring witnesses not to talk, although they welcomed an earlier IRA statement urging his killers to come forward.

Mr Adams described the meeting as "constructive". "There is an onus on us to do everything we can to bring closure to this family," he said.

"The task of building an Ireland of equals is a huge and exciting challenge for all of us. Use this site, engage with the party and join with us on the road to Irish unity and independence."Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP(www.sinfein.ie).This is Sinn Fein's Aim I don't understand how Gerry Adams can say that when Sinn fein members didn't treat Robert McCartney an Irish Man as an equal.In 1920 the british imposed the division of Ireland, today the actions of Irish Men on the 30th January who are supposedly fighting for equality and unity have now caused the division of Irishmen across the nation once again. We now have Irishmen who think they are above themselves that they can get away with murder and probably will because they have placed fear into there own fellow country men and women. Sinn Fein have tarnished themselves now, there is no way any Irish voter would vote men and women into power who think their above the rest of the nation what kind of equality unity and freedom is their aim here.
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