Belfast Telegraph

McCartney suspects put up wall of silence

By Jonathan McCambridge
04 March 2005

Ten people arrested over the murder of Robert McCartney have exercised their right to silence, police today revealed.

Detective superintendent George Hamilton today made a fresh appeal for information about the fatal stabbing of the father-of-two in January.

He said that some people who witnessed the killing are not coming forward with information because of fears about what might happen to them in their community.

The murder outside a Belfast bar has been blamed on the IRA, which has expelled three members after an internal investigation.

Mr Hamilton said the suspension of seven Sinn Fein members last night over the murder was not his concern.

He said: "For some people the murder of Robert McCartney has become a political issue but for the PSNI it is about much more than that - it is about the murder of the father of two young boys.

"The expulsion or suspension of people from political parties is insufficient for the police, what we need is for people to feel comfortable enough to provide evidence to the PSNI.

"Of the 10 people that have been arrested, they have exercised their legal right to remain silent and not to engage with us during the interview process.

"That means us as Serious Crime Branch in the Police Service of Northern Ireland relying heavily upon people who are witnesses to this murder to come forward and provide evidence to us.

"That is what we need. We need people to provide statements to the police in the first instance and then follow that through and be prepared to give that evidence to a judge in open court.

"Those people also need to feel comfortable that having made those statements, that they can return to their own communities and live in their own homes in safety, without fear and without intimidation."

The senior officer also said that protocols had been set up with the Police Ombudsman whereby people could approach her with information.

Police today released a new appeal poster calling for anyone who was in Magennis's Bar on January 30 to come forward.

They are also looking for the owners of a light coloured four-door saloon, possibly a Mercedes, and a beige and white jumper which were found in the area.

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