McCartney: plenty of statements, little evidence

As Gonzo points out, yesterday marked two anniversaries: Bloody Sunday in 1972; and the murder of Robert McCartney. It seems that despite 151 witnesses statements, there is, according to the sisters, still no admissable evidence from any of the seventy odd people inside the bar. The reported threat from the killers would still appear to be in force. The family repeated its appeal for witnesses to come forward, including the British spy Denis Donaldson who they suggest “could have been involved in discussions about how Sinn Fein should handle the negative publicity caused by his brutal murder”.

Update: Anne Cadwallader reports Paula McCartney saying there were 15 suspects and just one person charged.But more particularly:

The family said the driver of a blue car was spotted revving its engine while the attack was carried out and may provide crucial clues. Paula McCartney said: “We know people still have information and haven’t come forward. “It’s now a year later and this family is just not getting any respite at all. We know getting justice isn’t going to get Robert back, but it will be a step forward in the healing process.”

  • BogExile

    What does it say about a community where apparently 40 or more people can stand around without anybody intervening or trying to help and watch a gang kick and hack two people literally to pieces.

    It’s utterly chilling, the more so because apparently 151 people who according to Gerry Kelly are not afraid of anything refuse to give meaningful statements when logically some of them must have seen something. The alternative thesis is that those people just aren’t bothered that someone was murdered in front of their eyes.

    Some society we live in, eh?

  • seabhac siulach

    I think it quite likely that what most of the people in the bar saw was no more than some raised voices between the people involved. From what I understand the actual attack and any violence took place in a lane outside the pub and so not in view of most (all) people in the bar. (Where does this number of 40 people standing around come from?)
    We must remember that people in the bar were drinking and so, being perhaps slightly more than merry, would not have remembered too much of others coming and removing, for example, videotapes.
    I have to say that there have been many (okay, a few) altercations in bars where I have been present, but due to the background noise and music, I had not noticed anything until someone told me afterwards what had occurred…
    I imagine something similar occurred in this case. I am sure that some few are hiding information but surely not ALL who were in the bar. The fact that 151 witness statements were obtained shows that people have tried to be helpful. If people did not really see anything, then they obviously cannot report anything and their ‘information’ is then, of course, going to be inadmissable. In the absence of precise information on what occurred that night (which all of us lack), I do not think any of us can make presumptuous allegations of guilt or of withholding information. Plenty of murder cases are left unresolved. I feel for the McCartney family, but this may have to remain one of them.

  • fair_deal

    seabhac siulach

    There was substantially more went on in the bar than raised voices.
    The fighting started in the bar.
    Items used in the attack were taken from the bar e.g. metal rods, knive
    Bar staff were threatened to get video tapes
    A group of individuals ‘cleaned’ the place to remove forensics.

  • the lengths gone to

    Not to mention a man’s (Devine’s) throat being slashed open in the bar. Hardly just raised voices, that.

  • seabhac siulach

    fair_deal:

    “There was substantially more went on in the bar than raised voices.
    The fighting started in the bar.
    Items used in the attack were taken from the bar e.g. metal rods, knive
    Bar staff were threatened to get video tapes
    A group of individuals ‘cleaned’ the place to remove forensics.”

    Is it clear that the fighting started in the bar? Did it then spill from the bar out onto the street like a scene from a Western? Unlikely. The question is what did most people in the bar see. Most likely all they saw was the start of a fight involving a few punches being thrown, raised voices, a glass breaking. Perhaps even someone being bustled out the door. However, there is a difference between seeing two or more people arguing or fighting in a pub, and being a reliable witness to an actual murder. How many people saw the knife go in, for example? The fatal attack took place in the lane. We must also remember that the alleged perpetrators have already been picked up and questioned by the police. This suggests that people in the bar have already given the police the names of those they thought were involved. That is probably the most that any in the bar could do. Those present in the bar were not responsible for those involved returning and cleaning the bar or collecting videotapes. And if those in the bar had seen them cleaning what does that mean if they had not directly witnessed the attack. Not much. It is not a crime to clean a bar.
    Bar staff were reportedly threatened to get the vidotapes. But how many people witnessed these threats, after all, the videos are usually kept in backrooms?
    The lack of progress in this case is due to those directly involved not talking, and very little to do with the vast majority of those in the bar withholding information.

  • the lengths gone to

    Why the need to overly explain away the (non)actions of those involved directly or indirectly in the events of that fatal night? What or who do you think you are protecting in this endless quest to justify?

  • seabhac siulach

    the lengths gone to:

    I assume you are referring to me. Not sure I am protecting anyone, merely trying to understand why so many witnesses would not come forward. There is the unspoken assumption with all this, of course, that because so many have supposedly not come forward that they are protecting others…this assumption is allowed to remain there festering away when the truth is that the perpetrators were questioned by the police but released due to a simple lack of evidence. Witnesses in the bar gave the police the names of those involved, that is the truth. What more could they do unless they had seen the actual murder itself, which most clearly did not and could not have. There is a lack of evidence and witnesses for the murder, not for a fight (or whatever took place) in the bar for which there are many witnesses. Of course, it is clear why this story still has currency a year on…it suits people to use it to dig at the credibility of republicans and their supporters, portraying them as some sort of braying savages, defenders of allayway stabbings when there is, in fact, no evidence that more than a handful of people were involved in the murder. Those people, as we all know, were thrown out of the republican movement…but still the story sticks that somehow there has been a cover-up…

    It is difficult to have a clear picture of the whole episode, in any case, in the deliberate fog of misinformation out there, e.g., “a man’s (Devine’s) throat being slashed open in the bar.”, which is a factual inexactitude if ever I saw one…
    The murder happened in a side street as any web search will confirm.
    One may ask in return therefore why you felt compelled to write that, to further muddy the waters…
    Were you helping?

  • fair_deal

    seabhac siulach

    I would have though the sensible course would have been to accept you maybe didn’t know as much detail about the McCartney murder as you first though but as you insist on carrying on.

    “That is probably the most that any in the bar could do”

    They could provide evidence to the police and give testimony at the trial. That is the most they could do.
    They saw a number of people drinking in the bar before the fighting – thus they can place people in the bar before the fight.
    They saw the same men attack Devine and McCartney inside the bar (punches kicks and oh yes a throat being cut) – thus they can identify people responsible for attempted murder and some degree of assault (ABH,GBH etc)
    They saw individuals take weapons from the bars -thus they can idenitfy individuals at least assisting or directly involved in the further assaults and murder outside.
    They saw the individuals threaten the staff in the bar – thus they can identify people for threatening behaviour.
    They saw individuals clean up forensic evidence.

    “And if those in the bar had seen them cleaning what does that mean if they had not directly witnessed the attack. Not much. It is not a crime to clean a bar.” – Cleaning up blood, wiping down to remove finger prints, threats to staff is normal behaviour every evening in a pub? Wrong it is a crime. It is illegal to destroy evidence in a murder investigation – aiding and abetting in a murder after the fact.

    “We must also remember that the alleged perpetrators have already been picked up and questioned by the police” – Intelligence/Information on crime and evidence are two different things.

  • the lengths gone to

    The murder of Robert McCartney happened outside the pub, yes. All accounts of what transpired before Robert was stabbed and stomped to death indicate that the attempted murder of Brendan Devine occured inside the pub when his throat was slashed open. After that, Robert attempted to get Brendan out of the pub for help and the murderous crowd followed them outside to finish the job. Your saying that what happened in the bar was merely raised voices is what muddies the waters.

    I do not understand why you feel you have to go to such lengths to explain why no one has said anything of any use to the police unless you are either defending said people or protecting someone or something.

    I am with Bogexile’s view on this one. The reactions to this are utterly chilling.

  • Jo

    Ther can be no defence for people not coming forward with what they know about this.

    Over the last year I have seen things said about the McCartneys which would put the bitterest of Unionists to shame. Needless. I agree with FD that people saw all of the things he/she lists. They have kept that to themselves ever since and are complicit in a murder, ironically linked with the other murders of Bloody Sunday.

    One cant help contrast the attitude of people to those 1972 murders and their view and silence on and complicity in a 2005 murder.

    The barbarity surrounding McCartney can – and has been used, as part of a justification by some Unionists for believing unsavoury things about Bloody Sunday.

  • Dec

    All accounts of what transpired before Robert was stabbed and stomped to death indicate that the attempted murder of Brendan Devine occured inside the pub when his throat was slashed open

    Not all accounts actually. The one I heard is that after being asked to stop bothering a group of women who had complained about their (McCartney and Devine) behaviour towards them, Brendan Devine seriously assaulted a man with a bottle. A brawl then broke out in the bar between Devine, McCartney and the friends of the man devine had just assaulted where devine received his injury (caused by a bottle not a knife). (Incidentally the detective investigating the murder stated that it was view that the incident started as a bar-room brawl).

    However that it was one version (as is yours) and no doubt the truth will emerge at the trial.

  • seabhac siulach

    Truly a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing…
    I stand corrected over the attack on Mr. Devine and therefore apologise for some of my above comments. I was not aware that a part of the attack took place in the bar, focusing on the murder in the street outside. I will not comment further on this topic beyond stating that I merely wished to question the accepted narrative of events as I understood them. I am not defending anyone. I just do not understand the motivation of 70 something people in a bar, who witness an attack and then do not come forward. Beyond fear (which is a good one) is there another explanation? I was exploring the idea that ignorance of what took place might be a plausible explanation for most. All my comments were related to this reticence of witnesses to come forward and were merely exploring likely explanations…nothing more sinister than that…

  • Alan

    SS,

    To be honest your original posts suggested you were part of a *Sink the McCartney Controversy* committee. Better to be more circumspect, after all.

    This won’t go away, nor should it, until justice is done.

  • the lengths gone to

    Dec, your version merely supports my point. What transpired in the bar was not merely “raised voices”.

    BTW If what happened that night was only a bar-room brawl it does not explain why no one has come forward to the police with anything meaningful. What have they to be afraid of in that case? Or are the same elements at work in your scenario, too. Either way it is chilling, that a man can have his throat slashed (if a throat is slashed by a bottle is it any less slashed?) in a crowded pub and no one steps forward.

    SS, Fair enough.

  • Dec

    Who claimed it was ‘raised voices’. I simply stated that it started as a brawl (inside the bar) then escalated to murder (outside the bar). Also, as far as I am aware over 150 people have ‘stepped forward’.

  • Yoda

    The barbarity surrounding McCartney can – and has been used, as part of a justification by some Unionists for believing unsavoury things about Bloody Sunday.

    How and why? That’s quite a leap.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    What is clear is the fact no one (that I can remember) who has ever posted on this subject was in Magenniss’s on the night in question and witnessed events. Therefore a lot of people are repeating as facts things that they have heard second or third hand, or even worse, from the media.

    The Mc Cartneys have been very specific about the numbers involved in the attack. They have also alluded that they know who was involved and their background. In that context I am assuming that they have received this information from a person/persons who was actually there. Instead of making general appeals, that appear fruitless, would it not be better if they convinced the person/persons who are giving them information to come forward.

  • fair_deal

    Pat

    “Instead of making general appeals, that appear fruitless,would it not be better if they convinced the person/persons who are giving them information to come forward. ”

    So the refusal of witnesses to come forward with admissible evidence is somehow the fault of the type of appeals the McCartney’s put forward? Rubbish.

    The failure of a witness to come forward is the failure of that witness not the victim’s family. Those who removed/destroyed evidence attacked the investigating officers and initimidated the family and witnesses have a share of blame too and politicians who gave political cover before media pressure made them backtrack have a share too.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    fair-deal,

    try and understand the relevant point. Among the people not coming forward is the person or people who appear to be giving the Mc Cartneys quite detailed information. Once you understand that basic concept your post becomes a little silly and tails off into a rant.

  • David

    The SDLP MP, Alisdair McDonell, has taken a lead on this issue.

    The SDLP are able to speak for all the nationalist people, not just a sub-section of them.

  • Gum

    Well done David! I was wondering who would be the first to turn this thread for overtly party-political ends. Everybody: the one thing we’ve all learned from this is that we should vote SDLP!

  • la dee dah

    In light of the fact that witnesses from the crowded bar have not provided anything substantial does anyone feel like commenting on Gerry et al’s reaction at the time and since? The appeal for anyone to come forward via third partys e.g. solicitors, priests, anyone they trust appears to have fallen on deaf ears. Can he and his party now wash their hands….?

  • J Kelly

    David for information the SDLP represent 42% of the Nationalist which is in no way a sub section but a hell of a way from all of it. Just a thought has the SDLP support for this campaign dampened since 5th of May last year.

  • David

    John

    No – because the SDLP put the interests of all the nationalist before its own electoral interests.

    The SDLP thinks of the greater interest of all the nationalist people, not just a special interest within the nationalist people.

    That is why the SDLP are stronger.

  • fair_deal

    Pat

    I did read and understand your point, english is my first language. If you want to shift blame for witnesses not coming forward on to the McCartneys because they didn’t ask them in the right way so be it.

    Your premise is also based on the dodgy assumption that the efforts of the McCartney family to get people to come forward has been solely their public statements.

    Personally I prefer not to blame the family of the victim for the failures of others.