The Belfast Telegraph carries David McKittrick’s interview with Gerry Adams, also in The Independent, in which the Sinn FÃ©in president confirms that some of those suspended from SF (and possibly some of those expelled from the IRA?) are known to him personally.
The main point of the interview appears, unsurprisingly, to be to retread Adams’ message to the SF Ard Fheis. But the article also includes Adams’ interpretation of the events on 30th January –
The incident began with words in a bar, with an alleged insult to some women, then a confrontation with fisticuffs and bottles being thrown. It led shortly afterwards to a vicious confrontation in the street in which a knife was produced and Robert McCartney was fatally injured.
The political effects have been huge, and the republican message is that there will be no hiding place in the movement for anyone involved. “I’m trying to be a bit understanding about all of this,” Mr Adams told The Independent. “These were a group of people who were out drinking, who sparked off each other. It wasn’t an IRA attack, it wasn’t a republican plan, it wasn’t an operation.
“It was machoism, it was stupidity, it was brutal and it was obviously fuelled by alcohol. I made the point that if I had been out for a few pints and had I got caught up in that, I would have been redeeming myself the next day. As a republican I would have been for giving an account, for getting myself off the hook, for bringing closure to the family, and for stopping this entire campaign that’s going on by sections of the media.”
Some of those elements (machoism, stupidity, etc) may well have played a part in the events leading up to the killing of Robert McCartney, but it’s an interpretation of events that does not appear to acknowledge the calculated cleaning of evidence from the bar, the threatening of staff and customers, nor the taking, and destruction, of a video tape containing CCTV footage of the events in the bar.