3 March 2005 Edition
The following is the full text of a statement released on Friday night last by the leadership of the IRA in relation to an incident at Magennis's Bar in which Short Strand man Robert McCartney was stabbed to death.
Following the brutal killing of Robert McCartney in Belfast on Sunday 30 January, the leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann, in conjunction with the leadership of the Belfast Command, immediately initiated an investigation.
The investigation involved the IRA speaking to a significant number of people over the past number of weeks.
The investigation established that the IRA was not involved in this incident. We made this clear publicly in a statement issued on 16 February. However, some republicans were involved.
As a result of our investigation we established that:
On the night of 30 January, several groups of people were socialising in Magennis's Bar. Among them was a number of republicans. Many of those present had consumed a significant amount of alcohol. Others had only arrived at the bar.
A dispute broke out between a senior republican and a group of people that included Robert McCartney and Brendan Devine.
After an initial heated verbal exchange between the senior republican and Robert McCartney, another man and the senior republican were involved in a further heated exchange. Blows were exchanged and a major melee erupted in the bar.
Neither that man nor the senior republican had weapons of any description in their possession, though both were struck by bottles thrown by others. Robert McCartney played no part in the melee.
Both Brendan Devine and the senior republican received serious stab wounds inside the bar. A crowd spilled out into the street. Verbal abuse and threats were being shouted by many of those present.
Some of those at the scene, including some republicans, tried to calm the situation.
The senior republican's wounds were tended by people at the scene and he was quickly taken to hospital.
In the meantime, Brendan Devine, Robert McCartney and another man ended up in Market Street. It is the view of our investigation that these men were leaving the scene.
They were followed into Market Street, where Robert McCartney and Brendan Devine were attacked and stabbed.
Both were stabbed by the same man. Robert McCartney died a short time later in hospital.
No materials under the control of or belonging to the IRA were produced or used at any time during this savage attack.
A member of the bar staff was threatened by an individual, who then took the CCTV tape away and destroyed it.
Those at the scene are responsible for the clean-up or destruction of evidence at the scene.
Following our investigation, the IRA leadership, along with the leadership of the Belfast Command, initiated disciplinary proceedings through Court Martial. This was in accordance with IRA Standing Orders. These proceedings were directed only against IRA Volunteers.
One of these Volunteers had already gone to a solicitor immediately after the incident to make a statement on his actions on that night.
The other two were advised in the strongest terms possible to come forward and to take responsibility for their actions, as the McCartney family have asked.
In our statement of 16 February, we made it absolutely clear that no one should hinder or impede the McCartney family in their search for truth and justice and that anyone who could help them in that search should do so.
There should be no misunderstanding of our position in that regard. Any intimidation or threats in the name of the IRA or otherwise to any person who wishes to help the McCartney family will not be tolerated.
The internal disciplinary steps taken by the IRA are a matter for the IRA. They are not intended to be, nor should they be, seen as a substitute for the requests of the McCartney family.
IRA Volunteers fully understand that they are bound by rules and regulations and Code of Conduct. There will be no tolerance of anyone who steps outside of these rules, regulations or code.
Anyone who brings the IRA into disrepute will be held accountable.
Irish Republican Publicity Bureau,