Republicans 'protecting killers'

Robert McCartney, 33, was murdered in Belfast city centre

The sister of an east Belfast man who was stabbed after a pub fight has accused republicans of trying to protect his killers.

Robert McCartney, 33, was murdered in Belfast city centre two weeks ago.

Detectives do not believe the IRA sanctioned the murder but the victim's sister, Paula, believes republicans are pressuring witnesses not to talk.

"Their cover-up and their clean-up operation afterwards was meticulous," she said.

"It's just getting more evidence and getting more people to come forward and be brave and hand these people over.

"They're no good to man nor beast - they're just psychopaths with power," said Ms McCartney on BBC's Radio Ulster Talkback programme on Monday.

Several people questioned in relation to the 33-year-old's death were released without charge.


SDLP leader Mark Durkan has said he will share his concerns over the murder of Mr McCartney with US Special Envoy Mitchell Reiss in Washington.

Mr Durkan met Mr McCartney's family on Sunday.

He said the "full force of the IRA has been used to intimidate witnesses and prevent the killers from being brought to justice".

Paula McCartney says republicans are pressuring witnesses

Mr Durkan said: "There is power being used to prevent this brutal, brutal crime being properly investigated.

"The family are very clear - they want proper justice by due process."

Mr Durkan said he would be briefing Mr Reiss this week "on this appalling murder and the organised cover-up and intimidation that is occurring".

Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly said he wanted to see the family get "justice and the truth" and there should be no intimidation of witnesses.

He said if he had witnessed the incident he would have gone to his solicitor and made a statement, but would not go to the police.

The police said almost 500 lines of inquiry were being followed by detectives investigating the murder.

They also said a large quantity of CCTV pictures were being examined.

However, detectives refused to comment on claims that a tape was missing from the bar where the fight took place.

The murder weapon has not yet been found.

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