04 June 2005


Man on McCartney murder charge today

Angelique Chrisafis, Ireland correspondent
Saturday June 4, 2005
The Guardian

Robert McCartney

Police will today charge a man with the murder of Robert McCartney, who was stabbed and beaten to death outside a Belfast bar in January.

Terry Davison, 49, from Belfast, will appear in court in Belfast this morning to be charged with the murder of the 33-year-old father of two.

Jim McCormick, from the Markets area of Belfast, will be charged with the attempted murder of Brendan Devine, a friend of Mr McCartney's who was left critically injured from stab wounds on the night of the attack.

Both men were arrested in dawn raids in Birmingham and Belfast on Wednesday. Mr McCormick was escorted from a Birmingham bedsit wearing only boxer shorts after the raid by armed police.

Mr McCartney, a forklift truck driver from the Catholic enclave of Short Strand in east Belfast, died after he was stabbed and beaten outside Magennis's Bar in Belfast on January 30 following an argument.

His partner, Bridgeen Hagans, and his five sisters staged a high-profile campaign to bring his killers to justice, visiting the White House at the invitation of President George Bush and securing the backing of the European parliament to donate funds for a civil case if a criminal case never reached court.

Mr McCartney and Mr Devine had been drinking together in the bar near Belfast's law courts when a row broke out. He was then taken outside where he was beaten and stabbed in an alleyway.

CCTV footage was allegedly removed later as part of an attempt by the killers to clean the pub of all forensic evidence.

Under pressure from the family and in the aftermath of the £26.5m Christmas raid on the Northern Bank, Belfast, which police blamed on republicans, the IRA said it expelled three men over what it termed the "brutal" killing. It also said it offered to shoot those responsible for the killing, but the McCartney family had declined.

Sinn Fein also suspended a number of party members who were in the bar at the time and who allegedly failed to act on president Gerry Adams' demands to disclose what they knew or saw on the night of the killing. Martin McGuinness, the party's chief negotiator, used a party conference speech to express his outrage by the involvement of "a small number of IRA volunteers" in the "grievous crime".

Police revealed this week that they had taken statements from more than 150 witnesses. Ten people provided signed statements through the offices of the Northern Ireland police ombudsman Nuala O'Loan - an avenue suggested by Sinn Fein, which has not endorsed the police service.

Mr McCartney's sister Catherine said she was pleased with the breakthrough in the police investigation.

She said: "We are happy this has happened, but we know it is by no means over.

"We hope it will lead to further arrests because there were more than two people involved. We still have a long way to go in terms of a trial and convictions."

Another sister, Claire McCartney, said: "The family's campaign was paramount to people coming forward with information."

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