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Murdered McCartney's family give Deirdre Hargey meeting offer guarded welcome

Robert McCartney
Robert McCartney
Suzanne Breen

By Suzanne Breen

The family of IRA murder victim Robert McCartney have cautiously welcomed the decision of Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey to meet them.

Robert's sister Catherine said she hoped there would be "genuine engagement" by the Sinn Fein politician as the 15th anniversary of her brother's murder approaches.

The father-of-two was stabbed to death by IRA members outside Magennis's bar in Belfast on January 31, 2005. Ms Hargey was one of 70 people in the pub that night who said she saw nothing of the fight, which started inside before spilling outside and ending in murder.

The family also called on Ms Hargey to voluntarily go to police and make a statement. The Sinn Fein MLA said detectives had never asked her to do so.

The McCartneys first asked Ms Hargey to meet them when she became Belfast Lord Mayor in 2018. They repeated their request in Tuesday's Belfast Telegraph. Ms Hargey told the BBC yesterday that she would meet them.

Catherine McCartney said: "We cautiously welcome that. We hope it will be a genuine engagement and not just a box-ticking exercise by Sinn Fein.

"Our family has never been on an anti-Sinn Fein crusade. All we have ever wanted is justice for Robert. We asked to meet Deirdre two years ago and it's a positive that she's finally agreed."

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Ms McCartney said that her family wanted all Sinn Fein members who were in the bar on the night of the murder to fully engage with the PSNI.

"We weren't happy with the first police investigation and we will be asking Sinn Fein to support us in our request that the police revisit the investigation," she said.

"We need witnesses to come forward. We need the Sinn Fein members present in Magennis's to engage directly with the police. It would be of symbolic importance for Deirdre Hargey to do that as a former mayor and now as an Executive minister."

Ms McCartney previously stressed that her brother's murder was not a historic case "where the people involved are dead and it's hard to obtain information".

She said: "Except for Jock Davison, everybody central to events that night is alive. Deirdre Hargey needs to voluntarily go to police and make and sign a statement. Robert was a member of Deirdre's local community who went for a drink in a bar and was murdered. We want to sit down with Deirdre and ask her what exactly she saw and didn't see that night - where she sat, if she saw Robert, if she saw Jock Davison."

Ms Hargey previously said she did everything possible to help the McCartneys secure justice.

"What happened to their brother Robert was wrong. It should not have happened," she said.

Meanwhile, the parents of IRA victim Paul Quinn have asked Sinn Fein Finance Minister Conor Murphy to withdraw his "disgraceful slur" against their murdered son.

The 21-year-old was beaten to death by an IRA gang wielding iron bars and nail-studded cudgels in a border barn in 2007. At the time of the murder, Mr Murphy said he had spoken to the IRA and was satisfied it was not involved. He linked the killing to a feud among criminals.

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