12 March 2005


Sinn Féin candidate in McCartney murder bar

12/03/2005 - 13:15:43

A Sinn Féin Assembly election candidate was among around 70 people in the bar where Belfast father-of-two Robert McCartney was murdered, it emerged today.

Cora Groogan, who ran for Sinn Féin in the November 2003 Assembly elections in Martin McGuinness’s Mid Ulster constituency, has said she was in Magennis’s bar on January 30 when a fight erupted resulting in the murder of Mr McCartney.

During the attack, Mr McCartney’s friend Brendan Devine also sustained serious stab wounds.

However, she insisted she saw nothing inside the bar and confirmed she had given a full statement to her solicitor.

The Sinn Féin member said: “I got to the bar about 10pm that Sunday. I was there for a short while.

“There was a commotion in the bar but I witnessed nothing and left shortly after 11pm. I have given a full statement to my solicitor.”

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has in recent weeks called for all witnesses to come forward with information about what happened on the night when Mr McCartney was killed.

The IRA has expelled three members following an internal investigation over their role in the killing and subsequent cover-up.

That followed claims from Mr McCartney’s family that members of the organisation involved were being shielded and witnesses were being intimidated.

Last Tuesday the IRA also confirmed that at a five-and-a-half hour meeting with the McCartney family they had offered to have those involved in the murder shot - but this was rejected.

Catherine McCartney today said she was astonished to learn that a Sinn Féin candidate had been present on the night her brother Robert was killed.

“She says she has given a statement to a solicitor but I would challenge her to give a statement to the police or the Police Ombudsman,” Catherine McCartney said.

“Giving statements to solicitors is not really what is needed. The statement should be given to people with the proper investigative skills who can help to bring those responsible to court.”

The revelation that a candidate was present on the night of the murder in Magennis’s bar will place further pressure on Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams who has already suspended seven party members after receiving their names from the McCartneys.

The West Belfast MP also passed on the details of those seven members to the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan whose investigators had offered to help the detectives.

Republicans have been reluctant to ask witnesses to come forward with information directly to the police because of their belief that the new police service has failed to match nationalist expectations of police reforms.

The SDLP, the Catholic Church and the Irish, British and US Governments have all backed the new policing arrangements and support co-operation with the detectives probing Mr McCartney’s murder.

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