McCartney family's quest for justice will never be fulfilled
The feelings of the the McCartney sisters towards the man they blamed for the death of their brother is made crystal clear in their interviews in this newspaper today. Gerard 'Jock' Davison was callously and coldly shot dead near the centre of Belfast on Tuesday morning, but that shocking murder evokes little sympathy from the sisters.
For, to them, there is a feeling that they will now never get justice for the equally shocking murder of their brother Robert, a killing that threatened to destabilise the peace process at a time when delicate negotiations were going on to get the DUP and Sinn Fein to share power.
Robert was killed by IRA men after a fight in a bar and no one has ever been convicted of his murder. As far as the McCartney family are concerned, they believe they know who was responsible, but a swift clean-up operation at the murder scene destroyed vital evidence, and since most witnesses were republicans there was little information given to police.
Given their views on the killling and their belief that Davison ordered it, the bitterness that the sisters held towards him is understandable. They have expressed their sympathy to Davison's family, and it must always be remembered that every victim of violence leaves relatives who will grieve for a long time.
The sisters took their fight for justice for their brother to the White House and Strasbourg, but although two people were charged in connection with the killing, no one was ever convicted of it.
This sense of injustice no doubt fuels the anger which they still feel today. While Davison was apparently drummed out of the IRA following a republican inquiry into the killing, it was clear from the statements by Sinn Fein members after Tuesday's shooting that he was still highly regarded in republican circles. The sisters are particularly angry at the praise directed toward Davison for his community work from an Alliance politician, Paula Bradshaw, and also a senior detective who described the dead man as a person with a past, but which was in the past. Those comments do not correspond with the vision they had of him.
But their views will find a resonance with many relatives of people who died through violence here. They find it difficult - even impossible - to have any closure while still feeling that justice has been denied to them.
There are thousands of unsolved murders dating back to the beginning of the Troubles and there are many families like the McCartneys who still await someone being imprisoned for their loved ones' deaths. And it must also be stressed that, whatever his past, the murder of Davison was a heinous crime. Perhaps in the changed political climate of Northern Ireland today witnesses will come forward with vital evidence which could lead to the apprehension of his killer. That irony would not be lost on the McCartney sisters.