SF reject McCartney police motion

Sinn Fein has been condemned for not backing a council motion urging anyone with information on the Robert McCartney murder to go to the police.

The 33-year-old father-of-two died after being stabbed near Belfast city centre on 30 January.

Mr McCartney's family has said those responsible must be forced to admit their role in the murder.

Two men have been arrested over the murder in the past week, but both have been released without charge.

Sinn Fein failed to back a motion at Belfast City Council on Tuesday urging anyone with information or evidence on the murder to go to the police.

The SDLP motion was passed by 33 votes to zero.

Sinn Fein's 13 councillors abstained after its amendment to "encourage anyone with information or evidence to go to the organisation of their choice" was not passed.

SDLP councillor Pat McCarthy, who tabled the motion, said he was disappointed but not surprised Sinn Fein did not back it.

"I would like them to turn round and tell everyone that if they want to go to the police, they can go without any fear of repercussion," he said.

The motion, debated on Tuesday night, called upon the entire community to show "the same courage and dignity displayed by Mr McCartney's family".

Mr McCarthy represents the Markets area where the murder took place.

His motion also demanded "an end to the intimidation of witnesses and calls upon the community to co-operate with the due process of the law to apprehend the organisers and perpetrators of this crime".

Sinn Fein deputy mayor Joe O'Donnell said many people in the area would not go to the police.

"Our motion was to make sure they used other avenues - it was more inclusive, it represented the wishes of more people and it would ensure that more information was brought forward," he said.

Unionists and others said Sinn Fein's words rang hollow, and it was time for action.


Meanwhile, the Police Ombudsman's office said it would be willing to assist the investigation in any way possible.

A spokesman for Nuala O'Loan's office said it would want to liaise with the police about the best way to achieve this.

Mr McCartney's sister, Paula, has said that if witnesses were unwilling to approach the police, the family would like them to give statements to the Police Ombudsman.

Chief Constable Hugh Orde said that he would encourage people to go through a third party if they did not feel confident about going to the police directly.

Earlier on Wednesday, he told the BBC's Today programme that it was similar to his experiences in London, where "some communities who didn't trust us" would go through third parties "as a way of getting to the police".

"I have no difficulty with that, but what we need to do is get the information and then give the people the confidence to go into court and give the evidence," he added.

A 29-year-old man arrested over the murder of Mr McCartney was released without charge on Tuesday.

Another man questioned about the murder was released without charge at the weekend.

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