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TUV chief's anger at Robert McCartney investigation 'deal'

By Suzanne Breen

Published 28/08/2015

SDLP MLA Alex Attwood
SDLP MLA Alex Attwood

The allegation that the PSNI did a secret deal with the IRA not to pursue certain suspects in the Robert McCartney murder investigation shows the "perversion of policing" operating in Northern Ireland, TUV leader Jim Allister has said.

Yesterday's Belfast Telegraph revealed that SDLP MLA Alex Attwood is claiming that former Assistant Chief Constable Peter Sheridan had told him the police would pursue individuals involved in the McCartney murder, but not those involved in the clean-up of the murder scene.

Mr Attwood claimed Mr Sheridan told him that this PSNI strategy was decided after "discussions with republicans".

These meetings with Provisionals led the police to believe that information on Mr McCartney's killers would be "forthcoming" if police didn't pursue those involved in the clean-up. The SDLP MLA has made a statement on the matter to the Police Ombudsman.

The McCartney sisters say they are "disgusted" at the PSNI's secret deal and described the criminal justice system as "a sham".

Mr Allister said: "The exposé by the Belfast Telegraph of the connivance by the PSNI with the Provos over the investigation and pursuit of events surrounding the murder of Robert McCartney is quite shocking. This was political policing at its worst.

"To even contemplate, never mind activate, a clandestine negotiation with the organisation implicated in the murder, whereby their clean-up operation would be ignored in the foolish and naive hope that they might help identify their killers, is a staggering insight into the perversion of policing operated at the senior level identified.

"Little wonder the McCartney family are outraged. So should everyone who cares anything for the independence and reputation of policing and our criminal justice system."

The TUV leader added: "It was a total travesty of not just good policing, but independent policing, to strike a deal with the perpetrating organisation not to follow the evidence and let the Provo clean-up squad off scot-free."

Robert McCartney, a 33-year-old father-of-two, was stabbed to death outside Magennis's bar in 2005.

Up to 70 people in the bar all claimed to have been in the toilet or on their mobile phones at the time of the fight.

The bar was forensically cleaned and the CCTV tapes and murder weapon destroyed.

The PSNI's decision not to pursue those involved in the clean-up in order to secure information on the murderers failed as the Provos gave them back nothing at all. No one has ever been convicted of Mr McCartney's murder.

Mr Allister said: "It is no surprise to me that the Provos double-crossed the police and left them with nothing.

"The uncovering of this escapade regarding the McCartney case raises legitimate questions as to what other police investigations were corrupted by co-operation with the IRA.

"There certainly is a long line of Provo crimes with no convictions, where convictions would have embarrassed 'the peace process'. In how many of these have there also been 'arrangements' with the perpetrators? 'Suspects helping police with their inquiries' is a familiar concept, but the police helping suspects avoid enquiries is a whole new notion."

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