Belfast Telegraph

'Tell the courts, not the papers'
McCartneys hit back at murder denial

By Chris Thornton
03 March 2005

The family of Robert McCartney responded today to the senior republican who has publicly denied ordering the killing - saying he should tell his story to a court.

Gerard "Jock" Davison, who was arrested and later released over the killing, admitted being in Magennis's bar in Belfast when the row that led to the murder broke out, but claimed he is "as much a victim of circumstances as everybody else".

In an interview with the newspaper Daily Ireland, Mr Davison said "there's not a snowball's chance in hell" that he ordered the killing.

But Mr McCartney's sister Catherine said today: "He seems very keen to exonerate himself. The best way to do that is in court, not in a newspaper."

She also said Mr Davison's account of the incidents that led to the murder contradicts the IRA version released last week.

Catherine McCartney said details of the incident related to the family indicate Mr Davison "knows more than he is telling".

"He is a senior republican. Even if he wasn't there, he has been told what happened. He still knows what happened from start to finish."

As Mr McCartney's sisters and his partner, Bridgeen, prepare to go to America over St Patrick's Day to highlight the case, Mr Davison said he believes intimidation of witnesses to the murder is "non-existent".

Around 70 people were in the bar when the attack started, but police indicated last week they had received no signed statements.

Mr Davison said he had personally told witnesses to give statements to the same solicitor he has instructed.

He said he had called into Magennis's bar on January 30 and was approached by "a member" who said that men at a table which included Robert McCartney had been making rude gestures to women.

Mr Davison said he approached Robert McCartney, a former neighbour of his, and "sorted it out in a couple of seconds".

He said another man he did not know then "verbally attacked me" and ended up stabbing him three times.

"I defended myself and that was my sole role in the whole affair," he said.

He said he was treated for three hand wounds in the bar and then brought to hospital. He said he was nowhere near Market Street, where the worst part of the attack on Robert McCartney and Brendan Devine, who was seriously injured, took place later.

Mr Davison refused to directly answer questions about whether he has been dismissed from the IRA or if he is the senior republican described in last week's IRA statement on the murder.

Several accounts of the row said a senior IRA man drew his finger across his throat in a gesture to other IRA members in the bar.

But Mr Davison denied ordering the attack or playing any other role.

"I would like to get somebody to stand over that," he said.

"I totally refute that, it's actually an insult to say that I was . . . even that implication, that you ordered somebody to kill a man.

"There's not a snowball's chance in hell that I would even involve myself in an incident like that. I totally refute that allegation."

He added: "I sorted out the problem with Robert McCartney in seconds and I was attacked by a thug so I'm as much a victim of circumstances as everybody else."

Mr Davison denied knowing of the clean-up operation in the bar by IRA members, when tape from a security camera was stolen.

He did not believe witnesses were intimidated.

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