28/02/2005

Hundreds gather for McCartney family rally

Hundreds of people gathered at a rally on Sunday to hear impassioned pleas from the family of murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney calling for those behind his death to come forward.

The McCartney family, who blame IRA members for the murder, held a rally in the Short Strand area of east Belfast on Sunday to call for the republican group to pressurise those who committed the crime to come forward.

Mr McCartney’s sister Paula said: "If not they must be pressurised to do so. If these men walk free from this, then everyone in Ireland should fear for the consequences," she said.

Mr McCartney's uncle confronted Sinn Fein MLA Alex Maskey at the Belfast rally and singled out the South Belfast city councillor in the crowd. Gerard McKay said: "They butchered my nephew, butchered him, and all I'm asking you is hand the 12 over, you've handed three over, hand the other nine over.”

Mr McKay was referring to the news that the IRA said it had expelled three of its members over suspected involvement in the killing on Friday.

The family have welcomed the news but said that did not go far enough.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has told supporters in south Armagh that he fully supports the family's demands for the truth.

"Robert McCartney's murder has shocked hundreds of thousands of republicans throughout Ireland and we are united in our call for anyone with information about the killing to come forward," he said.

"Sinn Fein fully supports the family of Robert McCartney in their demand for justice and truth."

Mr McCartney, a 33-year-old father of two, died in hospital after being stabbed at a bar near the city centre last month.

An investigation into the death is still ongoing by detectives.

(MB/SP)

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