Belfast Telegraph

Families of IRA murder victims put heat on Sinn Fein and DUP

Catherine McCartney
Catherine McCartney
Paul Quinn
Robert McCartney
Suzanne Breen

By Suzanne Breen

The family of IRA murder victim Robert McCartney is seeking an urgent meeting with new Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey over his killing.

The father-of-two was stabbed to death by IRA members outside Magennis' bar in Belfast in 2005. Ms Hargey was one of 70 people in the pub that night who said she saw nothing of the fight in the premises that ultimately spilled outside and ended in murder.

Meanwhile, the parents of IRA murder victim Paul Quinn have called on another Sinn Fein minister to withdraw his "disgraceful slur" against their son. After the 2007 killing, Conor Murphy said he had spoken to the IRA and was satisfied it wasn't involved. He linked the killing to a feud among criminals.

Both the Quinns and the McCartneys urged the DUP to back their calls. They said the party had in recent times actively supported their campaigns for justice and they now expected it to exert pressure on Sinn Fein.

Robert McCartney's sister Catherine said: "Robert's murder is not a historic case where the people involved are dead and it's hard to obtain information.

"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."

The Communities Minister has previously said she was never asked to make a statement to detectives. Ms McCartney said: "She shouldn't need to be asked. She should just automatically go herself. As a political representative, and especially now as Communities Minister, she should be bending over backwards to help victims' families.

"We expect Sinn Fein to treat us the same way as they would treat victims killed by loyalists or the state.

"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 in Magennis' - where she sat, if she saw Robert, if she saw Jock Davison."

Ms McCartney said she first asked for a meeting with Ms Hargey when the latter became Belfast Lord Mayor in 2018.

At the time, the DUP hit out at the "conscious decision of Sinn Fein to nominate Deirdre Hargey as the first citizen of Belfast". It claimed "Sinn Fein did this in the full knowledge of the circumstances of the McCartney murder, and it is up to them to explain this and the hurt it will cause".

The DUP proposed a motion - which never came before the council - supporting the family's demands. Ms McCartney said: "I expect the DUP to publicly call on Deirdre Hargey to meet us given that its ministers now sit at the Executive table with her."

When contacted by the Belfast Telegraph about the McCartneys' request to meet the minister, the Department for Communities advised us to contact Sinn Fein. Sinn Fein did not respond to a request for comment.

Ms Hargey has 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.

She insisted she had "fully complied" with the police investigation. The PSNI had not asked to interview her but she would be willing to talk to detectives if requested, she added.

Paul Quinn was beaten to death by a 12-strong IRA gang with iron bars and nail-studded cudgels in a border barn.

His mother Breege said last night: "I'm calling on Conor Murphy to withdraw his disgraceful slur against Paul. My son was not a criminal. The Irish Government, the SDLP, and everybody who knew him testified to that. We also want Conor to go to the police and tell them who he spoke to in the IRA about Paul's murder.

"We had a lovely meeting with Arlene Foster last year. Now that she's back in government with Sinn Fein, we're asking her to remember her pledges to us and to act on them."

Speaking after meeting Mrs Quinn, the DUP leader said: "Eleven years on, it's time Conor Murphy apologises and explains why he misrepresented this gruesome murder."

Sinn Fein did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr Murphy previously told the Irish News that claims he had branded Mr Quinn a criminal were "without any foundation". He said he had condemned the murder and he called on anyone with information to contact the PSNI or Garda.

A DUP spokesman last night said: "Both these families deserve the truth and justice. All parties should support that. We stand by all our previous comments and stand in solidarity with the McCartneys and Quinns.

"Both families have suffered horrible and brutal cruelty at the hands of evil people. The Sinn Fein leadership appoints its ministers. Who each minister is would be entirely a matter for that party."

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