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Robert McCartney sisters named as witnesses in collapsed IRA trial after ban lifted

Published 11/06/2015

Robert McCartney was murdered in 2005
Robert McCartney was murdered in 2005

The sisters of murder victim Robert McCartney have been identified as witnesses in an IRA trial which collapsed last week after the Belfast Telegraph successfully argued that the ban should be lifted.

Leading republicans Padraic Wilson and Sean Hughes were due to go on trial in Belfast Crown Court  on charges of belonging to a proscribed organisation and addressing a meeting to encourage support for the IRA.

But it is understood the key prosecution witnesses withdrew from the case

The Belfast Telegraph knew the identity of the witnesses but was prevented from naming them by a court order.

However on Thursday afternoon the reporting restrictions were lifted after a lawyer acting for the Independent News and Media Group, which owns the Belfast Telegraph, which successfully argued that the ban on reporting the sisters' names should be lifted.

Wilson and Hughes have been acquitted of all charges.

They were the two most senior mainstream republicans to have been prosecuted for paramilitary offences here since the start of the peace process. The charges relate to events in 2005 following the murder of Robert McCartney.

Robert McCartney was stabbed to death outside a Belfast city centre pub in 2005 and his sisters  led a high-profile campaign for justice.

The family have always maintained that IRA members were involved in their brother's murder.

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