Feelings run high in Short Strand

Hard to tell how to gauge the significance of such local tragedies, but Angelique Chrisafis found some strong feelings bubbling just under the surface the funeral of Robert McCartney, the man stabbed to death recently outside Magennis’s near the Markets.

The past week has seen an unprecedented turning point in local attitudes towards the IRA. More than 600 people gathered for a candlelight street vigil in defiance of Mr McCartney’s killers. Residents in the Short Strand, which has suffered decades of sectarian violence, would once not have challenged the standing of the IRA, seen as defenders of the community. But some said the vigil was a sign of the growing unease at the criminal activities of what one person called a “Goodfellas” gang of IRA “peacetime” paramilitaries. People complained of IRA punishment beatings, racketeering, intimidation and sexual violence over recent years.

In an area with its own republican murals, once unthinkable graffiti appeared on one wall last week: “PIRA [Provisional IRA] scum out”.