Belfast Telegraph

Robert McCartney's family urge Sinn Fein's new Belfast mayor to tell them what she saw on night of killing

By Suzanne Breen

The family of IRA murder victim Robert McCartney have called on Sinn Fein's new Lord Mayor to meet them as they disputed her claim she did all she could to help them.

The McCartneys said the image of their brother Robert would "cast a long shadow" over Deirdre Hargey's term as Belfast's first citizen. They also challenged her to go to the PSNI and directly recount what she saw in Magennis's bar on the night in January 2005 when their brother was murdered.

Speaking as she became Sinn Fein's first female Lord Mayor of the city last night, Ms Hargey said she had done all she could to help the McCartneys get justice.

But Catherine McCartney told the Belfast Telegraph: "In the 13 years since Robert was murdered, Deirdre Hargey has never once reached out to us.

"She was in the bar on the night our brother was killed. We are calling on her to meet us.

"We want to sit down with her 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 (the man the McCartneys believe gave the execution order).

"All bereaved families are desperate for every little detail regarding the death of their loved ones. We believe most ordinary citizens would have felt compelled to contact the family of a murder victim in such circumstances. Even higher standards are expected of a public representative."

Ms Hargey did not directly engage with detectives at the time but made statements to a solicitor saying she saw nothing of the row inside Magennis's that ultimately spilled outside and ended in murder.

Ms Hargey said 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.

Ms McCartney said that wasn't good enough. "It was symbolically important for Deirdre Hargey as a Sinn Fein member to immediately go to the police after Robert was murdered without being asked to," she said.

"Her duty was to demonstrate to the nationalist community that it was okay to come forward and co-operate with the police.

"We will be asking the PSNI why they never requested Deirdre Hargey come in for interview. But she shouldn't have had to be asked, she should have automatically volunteered to go herself."

Ms Hargey has said the murder will not overshadow her term of office. But Ms McCartney said: "Robert's image will be hanging over Deirdre Hargey for the entire time.

"Robert's two young sons are growing up in this city. How are they to view the elevation of Deirdre Hargey? They have already had to deal with losing their daddy and now this."

The 33-year-old father-of-two from the Short Strand was stabbed to death by IRA members outside Magennis's. Following his murder, Ms Hargey was dropped as a prospective election candidate and temporarily suspended from Sinn Fein after it emerged she was in the pub on the night the fight erupted.

With CCTV video tapes removed from the bar in the wake of the killing, and widespread reports of witness intimidation, the IRA was accused of a cover-up.

Of 70 people in the bar that night, no-one reported seeing anything of the fracas.

Ms Hargey yesterday said: "I want to take this opportunity to again extend my sincere condolences to the McCartney family. What happened to their brother Robert was wrong, it should not have happened.

"I complied fully with the investigation and I am conscious that there is an ongoing investigation that is still live into this case. But the family do deserve justice."

She continued: "My main concern is to ensure the family receives justice and I feel that needs to be done through the PSNI and I do feel that any information around incidents pertaining to that night needs to be done through those avenues and I would be open to doing that, as I have done in the past."

Ms Hargey also said she was willing to consider attending this year's Remembrance Sunday commemoration in Belfast. She said she wanted to be a mayor for all citizens and would reach out to the Royal British Legion and locally-based Somme Association to discuss ways to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

Alliance's Emmett McDonough-Brown is the new Deputy Lord Mayor. He said it was "sad" no unionists last night spoke to welcome him and Ms Hargey in their new roles.

Belfast Telegraph

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