13 May 2005


McCartney family 'in burn threat'

Robert McCartney, 33, was killed near Belfast city centre

The family of murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney have been warned of threats to burn them out of their homes and businesses.

The warning came from the police and blamed criminal elements.

Mr McCartney, 33, was stabbed in January. His family say IRA members were involved and witnesses are afraid.

Earlier this week, the European Parliament voted to request EU money to help fund a civil case against those suspected of the killing.

The father-of-two was killed near Belfast city centre after a row in a bar.

"I'm not frightened for myself personally but I have four children here from 13-years-old down, so I have to take it seriously for them".
Catherine McCartney

MEPs back McCartney justice fight

Catherine McCartney, one of Robert's sisters, said she believed the threat had come from within the republican movement.

"For the past three months, we have been asking the republican movement to stop protecting the criminals who murdered Robert that night," she said.

"And now today after our campaign, we get a threat saying our houses are going to be burned down.

"I'm not frightened for myself personally but I have four children here from 13-years-old down, so I have to take it seriously for them."

Ms McCartney said there was a threat to burn a sandwich shop owned by one of the sisters.

Another sister, Paula McCartney, said they remained determined to find justice for their brother.

"Nobody will intimidate us. We will not rest until the murderers of Robert are brought before a court of law," she added.

She said the threat had been made because the sisters had taken a stand.

"They obviously feel that some developments are going to happen if we do get the civil action up and running and somehow they feel under threat.

"Catherine and myself had just arrived home from Strasbourg and police arrived to tell us that their intelligence had received information that the McCartney sisters' houses were under threat of being burned down.

'Very shocked'

"Obviously we are shocked, and considering that we were in Strasbourg and 25 countries are in support of our campaign which was very heartening and positive, now we arrive home and receive this kind of information."

She said police had not revealed specific details of the threat but had offered protection to the family.

Police would not comment directly as the case involved the security of individuals.

A large majority of the European Parliament voted to fund a possible civil action by Mr McCartney's sisters if the current criminal inquiry failed.

The motion will now be considered by the European Commission, which has already pledged help, and EU ministers.

Any cash support would come from the EU's fund to help victims of terrorism.

This fund has never before been used to finance an individual legal case.

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