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Sunday 24 February 2019

McCartney's sister curses brutal killers


In an emotion-filled outburst, a sister of IRA murder victim Robert McCartney said yesterday that she prayed his killers die of a "horrible" disease.

Speaking about the people who stabbed and beat Robert to death outside Magennis's Bar in the Markets area of Belfast in January 2005, nurse Gemma McCartney said:

"Hopefully disease will get them in the end, and I don't mean when they are in their 80s. I hope they get something horrible.

"Maybe it will be their own mortality that gets to them in the end. As a nurse I have sat with people in their final hours and saw how they start reflecting on what they did in life, right up to their final breaths. I can only pray that those that killed Robert, and those who helped them cover it up, will suffer that fate when they are dying."

Since they began their campaign for justice the family has suffered direct attacks and all have been forced to leave their homes in the Markets and adjoining Short Strand areas of Belfast.

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Now she and her sisters are discussing leaving Northern Ireland to find new lives for themselves and their children following Friday's collapse of the case against 51-year-old Terence Malachy Davidson, the only man charged with the murder of their brother.

"Maybe it is time to leave this society altogether, because for the rest of our lives we will be walking around and if we meet these people and their supporters they will be able to laugh at us and give the two-fingers," said Gemma McCartney yesterday. "We will just join the list of those people in Northern Ireland who never got justice. We weren't the first, and we won't be the last."

Another sister, Donna McCartney, who ran a sandwich bar in the city centre and regularly saw members of the IRA gang that killed her brother, said she now avoids going near the city centre for fear of running into the IRA men or their friends and relatives who helped in the cover-up.

"It's too late for us now," she said. "They [the gang responsible] have won. I am gutted because unlike my other sisters I was the most positive. The chances now of getting anyone new coming forward is nil. They have got away with it."

Paula spoke of "walls of silence still around Robert's murder". She said: "The intimidation of witnesses still exists and while that goes on you have to ask if anyone can get justice if their loved ones are killed by paramilitaries. Real change will come when that culture goes."

She is not confident that there will be any further arrests because of the cover-up and intimidation by the IRA and Sinn Fein.

Catherine named all the chief suspects in the murder in her book, Walls Of Silence, published earlier this year. "Anyone in that community that helped them has blood on his or her hands," she said.

Asked about speculation that they might consider a civil action along the lines of the case taken by the Omagh relatives, she replied: " I would prefer if there could be a new criminal trial. There is a wealth of intelligence with the PSNI, but they need eyewitnesses to turn that intelligence into hard evidence."

They did not dispute the findings of Judge John Gillen that the case against Davidson and two men charged with affray, James McCormick and Joseph Fitzpatrick, had been flawed. He found he could not be convinced beyond reasonable doubt and that the key eyewitness evidence of a passing woman motorist, who gave evidence behind a screen to protect her identity, contained inconsistencies.

He also criticised the evidence given by two men who had been in Robert McCartney's company -- both of whom gave evidence of being questioned by the IRA after the murder. The man Robert McCartney had been drinking with, Brendan Devine, who was attacked first, insisted in court that he did not see who slashed his throat with a broken bottle and then continued to stab and beat both him and Robert.

The sisters' campaign has taken them to the White House, and the European, British and Irish parliaments.

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