18 March 2005

Belfast Telegraph

SF and Orde in war of words
Row over PSNI's response over McCartney suspect.

By Chris Thornton
18 March 2005

PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde was "defensive, confused and, indeed, unbelievable" in explaining why a Robert McCartney murder suspect was not interviewed, Sinn Fein said today.

As Gerry Adams claimed that "there is sufficient evidence there to bring charges", Mr Orde said the PSNI knows how to run a murder inquiry better than Sinn Fein.

"We are the professionals. Not Sinn Fein. Not Provisional IRA," he said.

Throughout this week, Sinn Fein have attacked the PSNI for failing to interview a suspect who presented himself at a Belfast police station, accusing the police of using the case to attack the party.

"It has now been established that an individual believed to be a suspect in the murder of Robert McCartney offered to make himself available for interview.

"His solicitor was told that nobody from the PSNI was available to interview this man," said Sinn Fein vice president Pat Doherty.

"It has also been established that a number of eyewitnesses have made statements naming people. Again none of these people have been charged with any offence and no identity parade has been arranged," he said.

"There is a real belief that the PSNI are deliberately failing to arrest and charge those responsible for this murder in a bid to cause political damage to Sinn Fein."

Mr Orde, who has been visiting Washington and New York for Saint Patrick's Day, responded by saying that his officers are aware of who the suspects are and need to build a case against them.

He indicated there was no point in interviewing a suspect who does not answer questions.

"I think the public understand the difference between intelligence and evidence," he said.

"I think the public are ahead of us on this. They know very well that we need a case to put to people.

"There is no point bringing someone in who then, quite properly, if a suspect exercises their right to silence and says nothing. That does not develop the case.

"We know. We are the professionals. Not Sinn Fein. Not Provisional IRA. We know how to investigate crime and we are doing it very well."

But Mr Doherty claimed that nationalists saw that response "as defensive, confused and, indeed, unbelievable."

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