15 January 2006

McCartney murder pub changes hands

Sunday Times

Carissa Casey
January 15, 2006

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MAGENNIS’S bar, the Belfast pub in which Robert McCartney was murdered last January, has been sold for £760,000 (€1.12m). After lying derelict for several months, it was bought by Brendan McClinton, a Lisburn publican.

Once a popular lunch spot for barristers from the nearby courts, Magennis’s gained worldwide notoriety following McCartney’s death. His sisters launched an international campaign to bring members of the IRA to justice for the attack.

As part of the campaign a prayer vigil was held outside the bar, where McCartney had been drinking when he got into an argument with an IRA leader.

The knife used in the murder was later taken from the premises by members of the IRA. According to an IRA statement, a member of the bar staff was threatened and CCTV footage was taken from the premises.

Following the murder the pub began losing customers and by last April it had closed, its broken windows and graffiti-marked facade the latest ghoulish Belfast landmark. At the height of its popularity Magennis’s had a weekly turnover of £15,000 but that dwindled to less than £4,000.

Magennis’s was owned by a local businessman, Martin O’Neill, who bought the pub for £925,000 two years ago. It is understood he invested another £100,000 refurbishing the premises.

McClinton owns the 300-year old Traveller’s Rest pub on the Derriaghy Road near Lisburn but is largely unknown in the thriving Belfast pub market. He refused to comment.

Bass brewery is understood to be backing McClinton’s purchase with a low-interest loan.

Last June there were reports that O’Neill was considering a refurbishment of the premises. Later reports claimed the pub was under new ownership, but that deal fell through and the premises were put on the market in September.

Magennis’s is in the predominantly Catholic area of the city, close to the Short Strand where the McCartneys were residents. McCartney’s sisters and his partner, Bridgeen Hagan, have since moved from the area claiming local intimidation.

Two men are on bail awaiting trial on charges relating to the attack. Terence Davison, 49, from Belfast is accused of the murder, and James McCormick, 36, from Birmingham, is charged with the attempted murder of McCartney’s friend Brendan Devine. Both men deny the charges.

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