Belfast Telegraph

Robert McCartney's sister: justice fight led to unfair dismissal

By Anne Madden

A sister of IRA murder victim Robert McCartney is suing her former employer, Women Into Politics, for unfair dismissal, harassment and discrimination because of her family’s campaign to bring her brother’s killers to justice.

Catherine McCartney — whose brother Robert was murdered in Belfast in 2005 — worked as dialogue programme co-ordinator which was funded with EU money through the Training for Women Network (TWN).

Ms McCartney’s contract was not renewed when it expired on September 30 last year and she is taking an employment case against both Women Into Politics and TWN for allegedly conspiring to dismiss her.

The industrial tribunal opened in Belfast yesterday in which both respondents rejected the allegations made by Ms McCartney.

“I was discriminated against in respect of the groups that wouldn’t work with me because of my background,” Ms McCartney told the tribunal.

She explained that Women Into Politics worked with 23 grassroots organisations, known as regional project management agencies (RPMAs).

One of these is the Short Strand Community Forum, which Ms Mc Cartney claims retains animosity over her family’s campaign “against so-called republicans”.

As a result of Ms McCartney’s project not maintaining targets, she alleges that TWN then withdrew funding for her post.

The tribunal heard there is a division within nationalism between those who support the PSNI and those who don’t — Ms McCartney aligns herself with the former.

The McCartney family were forced out of the republican Short Strand enclave in east Belfast as a result of their campaign to prosecute their brother’s killers.

Robert McCartney (33) was stabbed and beaten to death after an argument with republicans at Magennis’s bar in the city centre in January 2005. The campaign by his five sisters and fiancée took them to the White House and gained them worldwide attention at the height of the peace process.

At yesterday’s tribunal, Ms Mc Cartney said she was excluded from a trip to Brussels in which “everyone involved in the project was invited except myself”.

She also alleges harassment in the form of her telephone conversations being recorded, complaints being compiled against her without her knowledge and individual agreements made with the RPMAs.

Barrister for Women Into Politics, Neil Richardson, said “there is quite an absurd conspiracy theory” that the director and chief executive of the two respondents were complicit in undermining her position based on her “purported political views”.

Barry Mulqueen, barrister for TWN, described the case as “totally vexatious, unreasonable and misconceived”, that there is “not one iota of evidence”, and he called on Ms McCartney to withdraw her allegation.

The case continues today.

Background

Catherine McCartney’s brother Robert was murdered outside Magennis’s pub in Belfast city centre in January 2005. His sisters and fiancée criticised Sinn Fein for not assisting in the investigation. Sinn Fein has always denied IRA members took part in the killing or attempted to prevent witnesses coming forward. One man, Terence Davison, went on trial for the murder in 2008 but was acquitted.

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