Republicans have picketed the home of Bridgeen Hagans, the one-time fiancee of Robert McCartney, and demanded that a friend allegedly attacked by IRA men withdraw his statement to the police, the family said last night. On Tuesday night, crowd of 50 people gathered outside the home of Ms Hagans and her two young children, chanting: "Out! Out!"This is appalling. There is something chilling about the cynicism of people who would use the cover of the Loyalist riots of the last few days to turn up the heat on those campaigning for justice for Robert McCartney.
Ms Hagans, who lives behind bullet-proof windows after earlier attacks on her home, is said to be terrified after the recent pickets. The family say that on Monday ight IRA men involved in McCartney's murder used the cover of loyalist riots to ttack a relative, who was reportedly assaulted outside the family home. Afterwards they are said to have severely beaten McCartney's best friend, Jess Commander, 34, as he went through the nationalist enclave of Short Strand, which had come under sustained attack during the riots.
Almost unheard of in a nationalist area where the IRA are "protectors of the ommunity", Mr Commander complained to the police, naming his attackers. Picketers outside Ms Hagans' home then demanded that no charges be pressed.
Paula McCartney said the protesters were associates of IRA men involved in her rother's murder. She said there had been "no respite" in republican intimidation of he family and called on Sinn F�in to speak out against this intimidation.
What can be done? I'm sure that these sort of insects will scatter if enough light is shed on them. Just writing about it seems ridiculous, but the blogosphere is potentially a remarkable tool for focussing attention on things. What about something as simple as putting a webcam outside this poor woman's house? I'm sure that there would be someone somewhere in the world watching it every minute of every day. Would that panopticon help to deter anyone? I just despair of the kind of people who would form a mob outside the house of a single mother whose partner has been murdered and chant, "out, out, out!"