Sunday Life

Taking a stand
Justice for Robert: Sister says she may take on Shinners at ballot box

By Alan Murray and Stephen Breen
20 February 2005

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THE devastated sister of 'gentle giant' Robert McCartney - slain in a frenzied knife-attack outside a Belfast pub - may take on Sinn Fein at the ballot-box.

Close pals of distraught Paula McCartney - whose 33-year-old brother was stabbed to death by a republican mob outside Magennis's Bar, in the city centre - are urging the Short Strand woman to consider standing as an independent against Sinn Fein, in May's local government elections.

Said one friend: "The Short Strand community turned out in force for Robert's funeral.

"We have absolutely no doubt that they would do the same if a member of the McCartney family decided to take a stand against murder and intimidation.

"The decent people in this community are absolutely 100 per cent behind the McCartneys.

"The people will support them in whatever course of action they take to highlight the evil injustice they have suffered."

Sunday Life can also reveal that a series of street protests over the horror slaying have been planned by members of the tight-knit east Belfast community.

One protest is expected to take place at Mountpottinger Road this week.

A former Sinn Fein election candidate is a prime suspect in Mr McCartney's murder.

The man was again arrested last week, and questioned by detectives. The other main suspect is the IRA's 'officer commanding' in south Belfast.

Detectives are still trying conclusively to link the Provo OC and the unsuccessful Sinn Fein candidate to the murder, after the IRA destroyed vital forensic evidence from the scene.

The failed Sinn Fein candidate was arrested on Wednesday, but was released without charge the next day.

Speaking to Sunday Life last night, Paula (40) said her family was "considering all the options".

She said: "As my family continues the quest to have the men who brutally murdered my brother put behind bars, we have to look at all the options available to us.

"There is a possibility of contesting the local government elections, but a decision like that is a long way away, at this stage."

"All we want is justice for Robert.

"We are determined to keep up the pressure on the people who murdered him.

"A senior republican, central to Robert's murder, has been seen by a member of the family in conversation with a potential key witnesses to the killing.

"My family - and indeed the community as a whole - view this as a clear indication that these cut-throat murderers are not being shunned by the republican movement."

Sinn Fein deputy Lord Mayor Joe O'Donnell - who represents the area on Belfast City Council - said last night that he would back the McCartneys' fight for justice.

Said Mr O'Donnell: "My primary concern at the minute is the McCartney family - not votes.

"Whatever the McCartney family wants, needs or requests, I will support them.

"I will go to whatever lengths I can to help them."

If a member of the McCartney family does decide to contest the council elections in Belfast's Pottinger ward, they would face an as-yet unselected Sinn Fein candidate.

Mr O'Donnell has confirmed that he will not be standing again.

Significantly, more than 1,000 people turned out for Mr McCartney's funeral.

Mr O'Donnell won the council seat in 2001 with just 1,264 votes.


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