Northern Ireland

Call for those with information about Robert McCartney murder to come clean

Murder victim Robert McCartney was killed in 2005
Murder victim Robert McCartney was killed in 2005

THE SDLP has called for those with information about the murder of Robert McCartney to tell the police what they know.

Dolores Kelly, the party's policing and justice spokeswoman, made the call in the wake of a Police Ombudsman's report that found nobody was protected in the probe into the 2005 killing, in which IRA members were suspected of being involved

Mr McCartney (33) was stabbed to death outside Magennis's bar in Belfast, not far from his home in the Short Strand.

The ombudsman's office received a series of complaints about how police conducted the investigation, including that those responsible may have been police informants who were protected from justice.

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However, a report by Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire found the police carried out a "comprehensive" investigation into the murder and that nobody was protected.

Dr Maguire said that while the family of Mr McCartney may feel the criminal justice system has failed them, there is no evidence police played any part in that failure.

Catherine McCartney, one of the murder victim's sisters, who made an official complaint to the ombudsman, said her family did not accept the report's findings.

"There is nothing in it which we didn't already know," she said.

Mrs Kelly said there was a duty on those among the 70 or so people present in Magennis's bar that night to tell the police what they saw.

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"The people who were in the bar at the time Robert McCartney was murdered, who chose to go through their solicitors rather than give statements to the police, undoubtedly have questions still to answer," she told The Irish News.

"They could still do the right thing and come forward with information."

Sinn Féin's mayor of Belfast, Deirdre Hargey was among those in the bar on the night of Mr McCartney's murder on a pavement outside.

Ms Hargey did not directly engage with detectives at the time of the investigation but made statements to a solicitor insisting she saw nothing of the row.

Sinn Féin did not comment on the ombudsman's report.