Thursday, September 15, 2005

Robert McCartney

According to the BBC, "relatives of murdered man Robert McCartney say the IRA intimidation campaign against them is intensifying." I suppose this was almost inevitable once press attention began to wane. It was as long ago as March that the family met President Bush in the White House and Sinn Fein seemed to be in disarray.

Let's take a moment to remind ourselves what happened on the night of January 30, 2005. Here is an extract, via the invaluable Slugger O'Toole, from the IRA's official statement.

Our investigation found that after the initial melee in Magennis's bar, a crowd spilled out onto the street and Robert McCartney, Brendan Devine and two other men were pursued into Market Street.Four men were involved in the attacks in Market Street on the evening of 30 January. A fifth person was at the scene. He took no part in the attacks and was responsible for moving to safety one of the two people accompanying Robert McCartney and Brendan Devine.

One man was responsible for providing the knife that was used in the stabbing of Robert McCartney and Brendan Devine in Market Street. He got the knife from the kitchen of Magennis's Bar.

Another man stabbed Robert McCartney and Brendan Devine.

A third man kicked and beat Robert McCartney after he had been stabbed in Market Street.

A fourth man hit a friend of Robert McCartney and Brendan Devine across the face with a steel bar in Market Street.

The man who provided the knife also retrieved it from the scene and destroyed it. The same man also took the CCTV tape from the bar, after threatening a member of staff and later destroyed it. He also burned clothes after the attack.

Reports in the media have alleged that up to 12 IRA Volunteers were involved in the events in Market Street. Our investigation found that this is not so. Of the four people directly involved in the attacks in Market Street, two were IRA Volunteers. The other two were not.

The IRA knows the identity of all these men.

That last sentence is a doozy don't you think? Here's another version of the events from the Guardian back in February. How much do you want to bet that the "senior IRA man" below is the "fifth person at the scene" above?

It was a Sunday night. Robert McCartney, 33, a forklift driver, was having a drink with an old friend. A number of IRA men who had come from the Bloody Sunday commemorations in Derry were drinking at the bar.

According to the McCartney family, a senior IRA man accused Mr McCartney of making a rude gesture to his wife. He denied this, but his friend, Brendan Devine, offered to buy the women and her friends a drink to apologise.

This wasn't enough for the senior republican, who asked McCartney: "Do you know who I am?"

McCartney, who also worked part-time as a bouncer to save for his wedding, was described locally as a diplomat, a diffuser of rows. He knew exactly who the man was, but did not apologise, saying he hadn't done anything wrong. A row ensued. A bottle was smashed, and used to slash Brendan Devine's throat.

McCartney and Devine stumbled out of the pub. Devine told his friend to run but he wouldn't leave him. At this point, a friend of Mr McCartney's called his mobile. He heard smashing glass, Devine shouting "I never touched anyone" and a woman begging the attackers to stop.

The family believe around 15 people followed the two men out of the pub. McCartney and Devine were beaten with plastic and iron sewer rods and slashed from their neck to their navel with knives, said to have been taken from the pub kitchen.

McCartney was kicked and his head stamped on. Some witnesses have said a gun was produced. McCartney lost an eye in the beating.

The family said the perpetrators left the men for dead, went back to the pub, locked the door, conducted a forensic clean-up operation in which evidence and CCTV footage were removed.

"They closed the doors and said: 'Nobody saw anything; this is IRA business'," says Paula McCartney.

No ambulance was called. The men were picked up by a police patrol. Devine survived. McCartney died in hospital.

One month on, of 70 witnesses in the pub, none has come forward with a full account of what they saw. Most tell the family they were in the toilet at the crucial moment. So many people have said they were in the small toilet at the time, the cubicle is now known as "the Tardis".

So, in summary, two men were stabbed, beaten and eviscerated in public because of a gesture. No one called an ambulance and one of the men died.

Everyone in the community knows who is responsible. They can't be allowed to get away with it, we mustn't forget, and his family must not be abandoned.

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