Four weeks on

The Guardian carries extensive coverage of yesterday’s public rally in Belfast in support of the McCartney family – including a timeline of events since the murder. One of the articles also notes Paula McCartney response to “a whispering campaign against the family” – “Robert’s murderers were the ones who damaged Sinn Féin so let’s keep the blame where the blame belongs.”

As well as the family’s rejection of the version of events included in the IRA statement, there’s also a brief account of the confrontation at the rally between an uncle of Robert McCartney and Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey –

Despite the IRA’s court martial and expulsion of three members – allegedly including the former officer commanding the Belfast brigade – the family claim at least nine others implicated in the killing are being sheltered by the organisation.

They also claimed the IRA’s version of the murder outside a Belfast pub – in which Mr McCartney and a friend were beaten, stabbed and left for dead – was wrong and that a whispering campaign against the family was being conducted.

The unprecedented protest in Sinn Féin’s heartland has put the party under severe pressure with Alex Maskey, the former Sinn Féin mayor of Belfast, openly confronted on the street yesterday.

Asked whether, as residents claim, two of the men involved in the clean-up after the murder had previously acted as his election workers, he said he would not comment on “falsehoods in the media”.

He also denied claims by residents that republicans had ordered children to riot in the Markets area to impede police investigating the murder.

As he was answering these questions, one of Robert McCartney’s uncles burst through the crowd, shouting: “You have nine other members of this gang … who butchered my nephew. When are you going to hand them over? You couldn’t even remember Robert’s name [after the murder]. Hand over the 12.”

There are claims that those involved in the murder are still under IRA protection –

Despite the IRA’s call on Friday night that no one should be intimidated into not giving evidence, one Short Strand source said the three expelled IRA men were still considered to be under their protection.

The source said the IRA members were at their homes and one was at an IRA safe house. One of the men involved in the murder had been expelled before, but was allowed back shortly afterwards, after undergoing a punishment shooting.

A senior local IRA member was seen at the rally and several IRA members not involved in the murder were seen walking around the area before the rally. One source said: “This was a subtle form of intimidation.”

And, as reported in today’s Irish News, the individual who was widely reported as giving a statement to the police was not one of those expelled by the IRA –

A man who was questioned by police and released this weekend was not one of the three expelled IRA men.

  • barney

    According to RTE, and some SDLP stalwart they talked to this morning, the crowd was a little under one hundred yet The Guardian counted 1,000 and put it on their front page. The Independent plumped for something in between. Am I being manipulated by one or more of these worthy institutions? This subject is hot stuff on Tuggetotoole so no doubt quite a few contributors will have put their feet where their mouths are by taking part in the demo Who went? What did you see? Or perhaps you all felt too intimidated to fight for truth and justice. Of course the rugby was on telly too so it’s not like you had nothing else to do.

  • Davros

    I saw footage of the crowd on TV. Lots more than 100 – nice try Barney. The point has also been made that
    IRA men were walking around as a not so subtle attempt to intimidate.

  • barney

    The only picture I’ve seen was on the front page of the Guardian and it wasn’t very helpful. What exactly do you think I was trying to do Davros?
    It is hard to reconcile all this talk of intimidation with the high profile campaign and, we’re told, large rallies. The intimidation can’t be all that successfull.
    BTW – do I take it Davros you had better things do do yesterday than support the McCartney’s in their hour of need?

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Well, I went to the first vigil and reckon there was over 1,000 there. I’ve had to guesstimate crowd sizes before. Usually the police put a figure on crowd sizes, but then there aren’t many round the Short Strand. And the police often don’t guess it right either.

    The large crowd seemed to be in spite of the intimidation, rather than small because of that or any other reason. If you check the BBC and UTV websites, I’m sure you’ll be able to find better pictures.

  • Davros

    BTW – do I take it Davros you had better things do do yesterday than support the McCartney’s in their hour of need?

    I was looking after an invalid elderly parent whose last brother died last week.

    What exactly do you think I was trying to do Davros?

    Your question above answers the question better than anything I could write.

  • Occasional Commenter

    I was there myself and there were certainly many more than one hundred. I’d say there was about 500 there, but I’m not an expert at that so I wouldn’t be surprised at a figure of 1000.

    By the way, when will there be any more rallies? I found it difficult to find the time of yesterday’s rally as I’m not from anywhere near the area.

  • James

    “the family claim at least nine others implicated in the killing are being sheltered by the organisation. “

    Before the sickies amongst us get on with lightbulb analogies, does anyone know how all of these individuals were involved in the knifing?

    What happened to the killer, the guy who actually knifed McCartney? The last scribbler rumor I heard was that he was in Dublin.

    Are the Gardi going to give this guy the run of the country? How about a little police work fellas, you know extradition, warrants, arrests, all that real cop stuff.

  • Hardy Handshake

    Aye well with SF’s chumminess with ruling class Brits these days likely Uncle Tony will send over a comfortable helicoptor for the murdering criminal vermin to be airlifted safely to Lancashire where they can start a new life at the public’s expense and sell drugs there to their heart’s content.

    “A Chara – Chinook-y Ar La”

  • Frankie

    Robert McCartney’s uncles burst through the crowd, shouting: “You have nine other members of this gang … who butchered my nephew. When are you going to hand them over? You couldn’t even remember Robert’s name [after the murder].

    Robert’s uncle originally from Short Strand Gerard Mc Kay hadnt put foot in the Short Strand in a long time id say didnt know his nephews name either.

    I wonder how many people he butchered while serving with the British Army.

  • Ringo

    Brilliant Frankie. What gifted analysis.

    Let’s re-cap will we?

    IRA members – accused by everyone of butchery- Good.
    Former British Army member(alleged) – accused by Frankie of mass butchery without any grounds whatsoever- Bad.

    And there I was thinking that the McCartney family might have a real reason for being annoyed at the hypocrisy of Alex Maskey and Sinn Fein.

  • slackjaw

    Ringo,

    Agreed. You passed over the subtext of Frankie’s remarks though: that the British army is ‘flooding the zone’ and manipulating media coverage. Which is ironic, whatever way you want to look at it.