» Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Robert McCartney murder

Asked what the Government’s view was on Martin McGuiness’ words about the McCartney family, and also how they were being treated by the Americans during their trip, the PMOS said the important thing all the way through this was how the family had chosen their own words to express themselves, and that they had remained an independent voice. It was important therefore, that we respected that, and to let their voice be heard, because what they were asking for was what any family was entitled to ask for, which was justice. We should listen to the McCartney family, as they had been very resilient and very strong in ensuring that their voice was heard, and that they were seen to speak for themselves.

Asked if Paul Murphy or any other Northern Ireland ministers had meetings with the family, the PMOS replied that for the same reasons he had just set out, the PMOS said he was not aware of any such meetings.

Put to him that it was being suggested that they were getting involved in party politics, should people be "puzzled" by that, the PMOS replied that the family had today produced their own best answer to the question: nobody could manipulate them, and people should listen to what was a family simply asking for those who killed their brother to be held to account.

Put to the PMOS that a Northern Ireland Minister, Ian Pearson, had told the BBC that the IRA was the "most sophisticated criminal organisation in the world" and did the Prime Minister agree with that, the PMOS said he had not seen the quote. However, what we had never underestimated was the degree of sophistication of the IRA. The key question was therefore, how a situation could be brought about in which IRA activities, including criminal activities came to an end. That had been the goal of the approach that we had been taking.

Asked how the Government reconciled one of the most sophisticated criminal organisations in the world with the murder of a man in a public street, and how was that "squared", the PMOS replied that what was important about what was happening was that the demand for justice was being led by people from within the Republican community. What was important was that there was now a united voice that stretched across the Atlantic, on both sides of the Irish border, and the Irish Sea that said the IRA must stop its activity. That was a unique situation, but we should keep separate that overall demand from the very specific demand from the McCartney family for justice for their brother. The PMOS said that of course there would be linkages, but it was equally important that the family were seen to have their own agenda and that nobody should try to manipulate or abuse it.

Asked if the Robert McCartney murder was one of evidence versus intelligence, as the police had said they knew who had killed him, and were the people who killed him therefore not classic cases for control orders, the PMOS said that in terms of control orders, they were applied to people who were believed to be about to carry out a terrorist act, not someone who was believed to have carried out a murder.

The PMOS was interrupted and asked what was the difference between a terrorist murder and a murder, the PMOS said the journalist was missing the first point, which was about future terrorist activity, not a past murder. The other fact was that the Chief Constable in the Police Service of Northern Ireland had said that he did not believe that the murder of Robert McCartney was an IRA murder as such. It had been alleged that it was carried out by IRA members, but was not an IRA ordered murder.

Put to the PMOS that the clean-up was an IRA clean-up, and the intimidation of witnesses were IRA intimidations, and were some very fine hairs not being split, the PMOS said that what we were trying to do was not only use the control orders in a way that were designed to prevent terrorism, but also as much as possible, use the proper rules of evidence. What needed to happen in the McCartney murder case was that those who were in the pub who witnessed the incident came forward and gave evidence in the proper way.

Put to him that the murder and the clean up were so well organised that did anyone now doubt that the perpetrators would not become future terrorists, the PMOS replied that in all of this, we had to be guided by the advice of the police.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news

1 Comment »

  1. I am an Irish catholic woman who fortunately immigrated to Australia with my family in 1981. I read these tragic murder stories, in particular with Robert McCartney and feel absolute disgust toward my fellow Irish citizens who were drinking in this bar the day of the murder. An innocent man has been murdered, a man who is a husband and a father to two young children. We have over 70 witnesses – yet not one person has the courage to come forward to give evidence. Now I am seeing more layers to the awful criminal activity that takes place in my hometown…. not only are you dealing with a war between Nationalists & Loyalists but you are killing your own kind. This is barbaric behaviour… how they think they have the right to take another persons life over something so pathetic. Only a strong man with wisdom – can put aside his ego, hatred and frustration for a more peaceful solution. The adults of Ireland should strive to instill positivity in all of their children as they are the future and hope for a better life in Ireland.

    Comment by Eimear Quigley — 29 Jul 2005 on 4:34 am | Link

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