IRA speak out against 'brutal' McCartney killing

16/02/2005 - 18:09:37

The IRA tonight washed their hands of the republicans suspected of a Belfast pub brawl murder.

In a statement tonight, the IRA said it was not involved in what it described as a brutal killing.

But significantly, they added: “Those who were involved must take responsibility for their own actions which run contrary to republican ideals.”

A top IRA man is one of the chief suspects linked to the murder of Robert McCartney, aged 33. He was battered and stabbed to death on January 30 after a bar fight broke out in front of up to 100 people.

With his family claiming witnesses have been frightened into silence, frustrated detectives have struggled to get the evidence needed to charge any suspects.

The republican leadership has been under intense pressure to help identify the killers, and after relatives today met the US Consul in Belfast, Dean Pittman, they were forced to act as part of a damage limitation exercise.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, whose party still refuses to recognise the Northern Ireland Police Service, has resisted recommending co-operation with the force.

Instead he has urged anyone with information to alert a solicitor or the family.

But Mr Pittman pressed for more to reassure those who may be too scared to come forward. He said: “Recent statements from political leaders are a welcome first step. But political leaders hold a public trust and should, to the best of the ability, help guarantee the safety of those who co-operate with the police.”

As the furore over the attack deepened, the IRA spoke out against any attempt to gag witnesses.

The statement added: “We wish to extend our sympathy to the McCartney family for the loss of Robert and for the grief that they are suffering.

“The IRA was not involved in the brutal killing of Robert McCartney. It has been reported that people are being intimidated or prevented from assisting the McCartney family in their search for truth and justice.

“We wish to make it absolutely clear that no-one should hinder or impede the McCartney family in their search for truth and justice. Anyone who can help the family in this should do so.”

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