Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein member Wilson released

A senior Sinn Fein member accused of taking part in an internal IRA investigation into the murder of Robert McCartney can be released on bail, a High Court judge has ruled.

Mr Justice Horner granted Padraic Wilson's application after being told of his central role in securing republican backing for Northern Ireland's reformed police service.

He held that it would be unfair to keep the suspect in custody when those once charged over the killing itself had obtained bail.

During the hearing in Belfast Sinn Fein MLA Mitchell McLaughlin testified to his party colleague's work with British, Irish and American governments and at grass-roots level.

Wilson, 53, of Hamill Park, Andersonstown, west Belfast, denies charges of IRA membership and two counts of addressing a meeting to encourage support for the outlawed grouping.

All of the alleged offences were committed in the months after Mr McCartney was beaten and knifed to death outside Magennis' bar in the city centre in January 2005.

The 33-year-old father of two, from the Short Strand in east Belfast, is believed to have been in an argument with republicans before he was knifed.

His killing attracted worldwide attention and put Sinn Fein under huge pressure at the time.

Although no one has been convicted of Mr McCartney's murder, his five sisters and his partner, Bridgeen Hagans, waged a global campaign to bring those responsible to justice.

It is alleged that Wilson and another unidentified man held at least two meetings with the victim's family following the killing.

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