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Robert McCartney murder sparked peace crisis, but the killers never faced justice


Robert McCartney

Robert McCartney

Robert McCartney

The murder of Robert McCartney was among the most controversial killings of the post-ceasefire era in Northern Ireland.

The 33-year-old was beaten and stabbed following a brawl outside a bar in Belfast city centre in January 2005.

It sparked a crisis in the peace process at a time when Sinn Fein was involved in delicate political negotiations. More than a decade on, nobody has been convicted in connection with the murder.

Mr McCartney, a father-of-two, lived in the mainly nationalist Short Strand area of east Belfast.

He was involved in an altercation in Magennis's Bar on the night of January 30, 2005.

He was found unconscious with stab wounds on Cromac Street by a police patrol car and died in hospital the following morning.

The McCartney family blamed the IRA for the murder and accused the organisation of interfering with witnesses.

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CCTV tapes had been removed from the bar and destroyed.

When the police launched a murder investigation they were met by a wall of silence.

None of the 70 or so witnesses to the altercation came forward. All claimed not to have seen anything of relevance, or said they had been elsewhere at the time.

Initially, Sinn Fein rejected claims that IRA members were present. However, three IRA members were later expelled following an internal investigation.

They included Gerard 'Jock' Davison, a one-time IRA commander who was shot dead in Belfast last month.

He was reputed to have glanced at some of his IRA associates and drawn his finger across his throat - a signal as to what he wanted done to Mr McCartney and his friend Brendan Devine.

Davison was questioned by police but released without charge, and always denied the claims.

Davison's uncle Terence Davison was charged with Mr McCartney's murder, but was acquitted after a trial.

Two other men were cleared of charges connected to the killing.

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