29 May 2006

CRJ man who witnessed IRA assault stays quiet


(by Suzanne Breen, Sunday Tribune)

A Belfast family has accused a leading member of the controversial Community Restorative Justice (CRJ) scheme of allowing the Provisional IRA to get away with a brutal assault.

Jeff Commander, the best friend of murdered Short Strand man Robert McCartney, was beaten with sewer rods and iron bars by an eight-strong gang. Police later told him of threats to his life from the IRA.

Commander, his wife Sinead, and their five children, have now been forced to leave the Short Strand. They are moving out this week.

Sinead Commander told the Sunday Tribune that a prominent CRJ membe, who was convicted of the 1988 murder of two British Army corporals at an IRA funeral, witnessed the attack on her husband last September but still hasn't made a statement to police.

"He didn't take part but he saw the beating. Police told me on Friday that he still hasn't made a statement. The attack on Jeff was completely unprovoked. Three men have been charged with grievous bodily harm. Eight men were involved. Harry Maguire's evidence could be vital."

She has been in correspondence with CRJ director, Jim Auld, for the past three months, asking him to urge the man to come forward to police.

May 29, 2006

This article appeared in the May 28, 2006 edition of the Sunday Tribune.

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