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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 March, 2005, 12:05 GMT
What should Sinn Fein do now?
Robert McCartney
Sinn Fein's opponents are exploiting the killing of Robert McCartney by using it to "gang up on Sinn Fein", party leader Gerry Adams has said.

Sinn Fein delegates are in Dublin for their annual party conference following the suspension of seven members in connection with Robert McCartney's murder.

The family of the 33-year-old, who was stabbed to death following a row in a bar on 30 January, believe republicans were involved in the killing and its cover-up.

Mr Adams told the conference that Mr McCartney's murder has "sullied the republican cause".

What should Sinn Fein decide at their Dublin conference? Are you a Sinn Fein supporter, if so, will you continue to support them?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

The peace process is essential for Northern Ireland and it's about time they all stopped hindering the process
Pete Lewis, Manchester, UK
I have listened with interest to Mr Adams' opinions and concerns on this matter and also heard his appeal for witnesses. I believe that he has done everything in his power to appease the most critical of his opponents. I have no interest in Irish politics or religion, but I do feel he has done everything he can. The peace process is essential for Northern Ireland and it's about time they all stopped hindering the process with any excuse they can think off. The murder of Robert McCartney was tragic, but it should not be used by other political parties as an excuse to hold up the peace process.
Pete Lewis, Manchester, UK

That Sinn Fein suspended members from its party in connection with McCartney's murder shows how backward it is. Suspended? Surely expelled. How would it look for the Democrats or Labour party to suspend some members if they were involved in a murder. Once the 'fuss' is over are they are allowed back in? What they should do is become a proper political party and fight the good fight with reason not force.
J Cameron, London

All this talk of disbanding and resignation are rubbish. We all need Sinn Fein to act as the intermediary it always has been. The difficulties come for SF when they are seen to be involved in the illegal (in most normal people's use of the term) activities. What should SF do? Renounce violence, become truly law abiding, and help us convince the terrorist/mafia republican element to do the same.
Morten, UK

As a political party Sinn Fein has always been pushed to the limits and always had to give in to the other parties. They seem to be the only ones that have given up so much, if it wasn't for Sinn Fein and the IRA changing their ways in the first place there would still be a lot more bombing and killing. Give the peace a chance and stop the witch hunts.
Robin, Guildford

Gerry Adams is talking garbage. Never mind that people are ganging up on Sinn Fein, what about Sinn Fein's actions which amount to nothing more than a damage limitation exercise.
Bob, Shetland, UK

Because Mr McCartney was a Sinn Fein voter and the sisters have embarrassed Mr Adams they are now in a corner. This sort of murder has happened many times before, but because of the publicity and the background of the victim suddenly they are concerned. Either you're a law abiding citizen or you're not. If you know names then you come forward. It's what any law abiding citizen will do. To say it's the police's job is a joke. The police don't and cannot witness every crime. They need witnesses to build a case. What is the point of the IRA now there is a ceasefire?
Andrew Walker, St Albans

People in the north feel as though Ireland has abandoned them , and the UK is trying to wipe its hands clean of them. Regardless if you are republican or unionist, there will never be peace if all are not listened to. Sinn Fein must go on. Even if the IRA is responsible for this bar murder, and even if it did rob the Northern bank; Sinn Fein is the political party - not the IRA. I support a united Ireland and Sinn Fein stands for that cause - unionists are welcomed to live in it.
Michael, Belfast

The real republican struggle is over and its heroes dead and buried
Jason Robinson, Dublin, Ireland
Sinn Fein's opponents may be exploiting Robert McCartney's death, but with fair cause. Sinn Fein have amassed huge support in the last number of years in Southern Ireland with the majority of these supporters not knowing a lot, if anything, about the party's policies, besides that of a united Ireland. They are an outdated, anachronistic party that belong to the past. The real republican struggle is over and its heroes dead and buried. It's time for Sinn Fein to face facts and let real democrats work for peace.
Jason Robinson, Dublin, Ireland

Sinn Fein are exploiting this death as well by making out the IRA are heroes who expel murderers. I'd be surprised if all this wasn't engineered by Sinn Fein to get votes.
Rick, UK

Sinn Fein shouldn't do anything now. It's not their responsibility to control feuding gangsters. That is the job of the police. As for the whole peace process, it's clear that whichever of the two solutions (United Eire or UK) we take, it will not be acceptable to a sizeable number of people. As such, the only real solution is to make Northern Ireland an independent nation. With such a shock of this situation, maybe the two sides can learn to live together.
Dean, Staffordshire

As an ex soldier who served five tours in NI, I believe that Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein's comments are, as always, biased and they should cease pontificating, wallowing in the media spotlight, grow up and accept reality! In my opinion, they are all hypocrites!
Patrocolus, Germany

As one of the Irish diaspora, I will always be an ideological supporter of Sinn Fein. They will however have to purge their ranks of the thugs and cooperate with the police and prosecution service to be taken seriously by the other political parties and to continue to ensure the grass roots support they enjoy from people in NI; people like the McCartneys.
M Dwyer, Netherlands

The politics of Northern Ireland are locked in the past. Both Sinn Fein and the unionists need to recognise that whilst they have been fighting the battle of the Boyne the rest of the world has left them behind. In the context of the EU, the aim of unity is irrelevant. The poverty of years ago has been, is being, overcome, not by pointless violence, but by co-operation between the governments of Europe, and especially those of the UK and Eire. Both Sinn Fein and the unionists need to move on, into the future and leave the infected past behind.
Barry P, Havant England

They should reveal all that evidence to the PSNI immediately
Phil, Cornwall
It appears that Sinn Fein have evidence pertaining to this murder otherwise they would not have suspended seven of their members. If they are committed to a democratic process, and since the PSNI is a product of that process, they should reveal all that evidence to the PSNI immediately and support the rule of law. Anything less is an admission of insincerity and a siding with criminals. Similarly the IRA should hand over their men to the "civil authorities" if the wish to be considered just.
Phil, Cornwall

The IRA /Sinn Fein are not a police force, they don't have to hand anyone over to the police force, and the McCartney family gave Mr Adams a list of names. Why didn't they give these names to the police and let them deal with it? After all they are the ones being paid to do this job.
Frankie, ex Northern Ireland

It's time now for "New Sinn Fein" to emerge, a party based on peoples' aspirations - not on their fear
Derek, England
Gerry Adams has always been in a impossible position. He has to try and create a mask of respectability in order to be taken seriously whilst at the same time, trying to retain and restrain the extremists in his party. I don't see how he can run with two masters. It's time now for "New Sinn Fein" to emerge, a party based on peoples' aspirations - not on their fear. What about it Gerry? Have you got the bottle for that?
Derek, England

This is just the tip of an iceberg. Robert's killing was a despicable unjustifiable act perpetrated by a local Mafia. As soon as IRA (SF) take culpability there are many hundreds more families waiting with similar questions and demands. It was always a mistake to allow criminals into the political process.
Stewart, Belfast, Co. Antrim

Anyone found guilty of murder should be tried and punished if convicted. Sinn Fein as a party has nothing to do with it, unless proven otherwise. We are tending to loose sight of important basic principles of justice.
Leslie Ladomery, Edinburgh Scotland UK

Sinn Fein should vote in a new uncorrupted and non-criminal leadership if it wants to remain as a political party. Like Arafat was in Palestine, Adams, McGuinness and McLaughlin are an obstacle to peace, accountability and democracy.
Christopher MacDermott, Stockholm, Sweden

No wonder Unionists don't trust them
G Turnbull, St Albans

There can be little doubt that Sinn Fein are complicit in murder, bank robbery and lies. What a sad state for the voters who voted for them. No wonder Unionists don't trust them. They have good cause.
G Turnbull, St Albans

If we are going to treat Ulster as another part of the UK shouldn't the established UK parties set up organizations in the province offering the people a genuine choice of policies and parties rather than those based solely on sectarianism?
Jack, Radlett, UK

Though the faults of Sinn Fein are many, it's not fair to blame lack of progress exclusively on them. Have all loyalist groups disarmed and ceased their illegal activities?
Mike, Bristol, UK

I hope that the people involved in the murder of Rob McCartney give themselves up
Bobby McBride, Belfast

We have a peace process because of Gerry Adams. The rights that we have now are down to Sinn Fein. I support the good fight of the McCartney's 100% and if I was a witness when he was killed I would have no problem going to the police. At the same time I will and would have no problem voting Sinn Fein. I hope that the people involved in the murder of Rob McCartney give themselves up and end this family's pain. Do it for the sake of his kids.
Bobby McBride, Short Strand, Belfast

If Sinn Fein wish to be recognised as a legitimate voice they need to obey the law not act as if they and the IRA are not subject to it in the same way as everyone else.
Megan, Cheshire, UK

The IRA and Sinn Fein were created by the continued occupation of the northern part of Ireland. It makes no political or social sense to rail against either of them as long as they appeal to a significant percentage of the population. As the demographics of the north change in favour of the Irish, it makes sense that the other political interests should shape their policies and goals to be consistent with that fact.

Soon the voting majority of all northern counties will be Irish, and their votes will reflect that fact. Sinn Fein will play its role until it outlives its appeal. When will that be? When Ireland is united as one. No other outcome can render the IRA and Sinn Fein irrelevant. May it be a peaceful transition.
Michael, California, USA

To Michael, California: You are living in a dream world if you think Irish unity is that close. He probably confuses being Catholic with wanting a united island. How mistaken he is, as at the last count 70% of the population of NI wanted to remain under British rule, and that was when the Catholic population was at 45%. Even if that were not the case, the last figures for primary school enrolment showed that there were more Protestants than Catholics enrolling.
Neill, ex Belfast

Sinn Fein has a problem. It represents republicanism (well over 50% of nationalists) in Northern Ireland. The IRA used to do the same. Now the IRA is realistically a name of an organised crime gang, into drugs, muggings, etc. and not really a republican movement at all. Unfortunately for Sinn Fein it used to have strong links to the old IRA, the republican one. These links are no longer appropriate but their staunchest supporters want the link with the IRA of old to be maintained. It's a tricky situation for Mr Adams to try to reconcile.
Tim, Fareham, UK (ex NI)

Sinn Fein promised to deliver an IRA ceasefire 10 years ago, they delivered. They have publicly committed to peaceful democratic means, and they have been consistent since the peace process started. Bertie Ahern's government are terrified of Sinn Fein's electoral gains on both sides of the border. Why do the UK and Irish Governments demand a higher standard of Sinn Fein than of their own parties? There are thugs and criminals in both countries. It is the job of police to prevent and detect criminality, and not the job of political parties such as SF.
Liam Coughlan, Banja

Sinn Fein should get rid of most of their top brass. A much more modern leadership, without so many ties to the troubles and in particular paramilitary organisations, would be much more acceptable to all sides and would be of great assistance in helping the peace process along! I accept that we cannot marginalise Sinn Fein due to the large numbers of people who voted for them but we should definitely be more selective about the people who are allowed to stand in their names.
Steve, Warrington, Cheshire

If Sinn Fein really are serious about the peace process then they need to publicly renounce all ties to the IRA and to apologise for their past actions. Then the peace process can begin again with a clean slate.
Stephen Mortimer, Reading, UK

Time is on their side... each new day brings a united Ireland closer
Martin, Cumbria, UK
Sinn Fein need not do anything. Time is on their side. In my opinion each new day brings a united Ireland closer. Sinn Fein will always represent the best interests for Catholics and Republicans because these people know that no-one else will. Despite some peoples wishes Sinn Fein will not go away, they will continue to grow.
Martin, Whitehaven, Cumbria, UK

At last people are standing up to the evils of the paramilitaries. They have had too much power in a lot areas of Ulster, on both sides. Their cause is now greed, power and control. More people need to stand up to their drug trading, pimping etc. I believe more and more people are getting sick of them and hopefully this will be the end of such organisations
Gareth, Shropshire

Gerry Adams should congratulate the McCartney family for their bravery in speaking out against the IRA. Something he clearly has never had the courage to do!
Paula, Belfast, N Ireland

As with the Palestinian Authority under Arafat, an entire change in leadership is in order before anything good can happen. Having lost all credibility as a "peace partner" it is virtually impossible for Sinn Fein to be taken seriously again. The process of integrating Catholics and Protestants must proceed without them for the time being. If that is not possible, then the relations between the sides is back to square one.
Mark, USA

They were democratically elected, by Robert McCartney for one
Sarah, Belfast
Can we trust Sinn Fein and what they stand for? Yes they were democratically elected, by Robert McCartney for one. But violence is not the nationalist belief, yet Sinn Fein are continually linked to the bloodshed caused by the IRA. Are they really achieving the goals for the people who entrusted their vote to them?
Sarah, Belfast, Northern Ireland

What should Sinn Fein do now? Easy. Disband.
Gordon, London

I think he should acknowledge that the violent activities of the IRA, and their counterparts on the Loyalist side, served only to prolong the conflict, and the hatred. And, in view of the fact that the Cold War ended, and the Berlin Wall came down, without bloodshed, he should acknowledge the IRA were wrong to carry out terror attacks, and Sinn Fein were wrong in not condemning the IRA.
John B, Milton Keynes, UK

Sinn Fein should use Dublin as an opportunity to make a complete, formal and definitive break with those Republicans who are still operating outside of the law. They would immediately benefit from this decision in terms of credibility and respect.
Richard, Sussex

The people responsible need to be prosecuted not send letters to a solicitor
Gil, London
Why does Sinn Fein think that they are above a democracy's police service, the people responsible need to be prosecuted not send letters to a solicitor!!
Gil, London

Contributors here need to better understand the delicate line Sinn Fein has to walk. It is easy to say that they should dump the IRA as fast as possible, but doing so would splinter the republican movement, and hard-line elements would move to fill the vacuum. Sinn Fein needs to move the movement as a whole - what use is Sinn Fein splitting with the IRA if the result is a new, unaffiliated and more violent IRA? What Sinn Fein needs to is to leverage the current opinion to pressure the "hawks" and push the republican movement further away from violence and towards purely democratic politics.
Seán, Belfast, Ireland

The Irish people under Bertie Ahern should decide the future of Ireland. Sinn Fein should never have been allowed into the political process until it could show no allegiance to the IRA.
Chris Kisch, Milton Keynes, UK

The DUP is the biggest threat to political stability in Northern Ireland. The DUP is not interested in anything other than denying Catholics rights.
Stephen, Edinburgh, Scotland

How quickly we forget what it was like when the threat of bombs loomed over us! The peace process has given Northern Ireland relative stability and Sinn Fein did indeed contribute to this situation. Gerry Adams has acted correctly in suspending the members pending the legal process. The cynicism directed at Sinn Fein is clouding the fact that as a party it has legitimate aims and has helped bring a degree of security to the North.
Anon, London

Members have been democratically elected and they represent a significant proportion of the NI population
Gavin, Hull, UK
We cannot ignore Sinn Fein. Members have been democratically elected and they represent a significant proportion of the NI population. It is vital that we do not forget that this element of the population was drawn to vote for Sinn Fein because they did not believe that SDLP or the other parties represented their opinions. We must analyse why so many people were drawn to support this party. Perhaps it is because they still fear a unionist led Northern Ireland.
Gavin, Hull, UK

Well, they've taken a very small step. They should try a few hundred more in the same direction, and if so, they might find they meet some of the moderate loyalists coming in the other direction. Openly and unequivocally denouncing all violence for any motive would count for a fair bit.
JG, Huddersfield, UK

Adams and McGuinness should distance Sinn Fein from the IRA. Whilst they still maintain their IRA links it is very difficult for them to get off the fence and be taken seriously. Likewise the UK and Irish governments should give them every help to do this, we have to accept the past and draw a line for the benefit of all the people of Northern Ireland
Andy, UK

Sinn Fein is a legitimate party with a majority nationalist electorate
J Wright, London
Gerry Adams is the only person who can lead the republican movement, he is a very clever and astute politician. Sinn Fein is a legitimate party with a majority nationalist electorate, the people saying Sinn Fein should be thrown out of the peace process are in effect saying that under no circumstances will nationalists have any power in the Northern Ireland assembly. What you have to remember is that over half the nationalist population voted for Sinn Fein, I wonder why they did that!
J Wright, London

Finally, Sinn Fein's own constituency are saying enough is enough! Too many people in the republican movement hide behind their victim status. The last thing they want to do is lose their power, get proper jobs, and be accountable to an elected body and the police force. If they truly believe in democracy then they have only one option - denounce the IRA and swear allegiance to the democratically elected bodies.
John, Northwich, UK

Gerry Adams should publicly condemn all unlawful actions. The people of Northern Ireland are no longer willing to tolerate these actions, and will surely let Sinn Fein know, come the time of the next election. They need to be convinced that Sinn Fein are truly and solely committed to the democratic process.
Bill, Maidstone

All of these groups who claim to represent the people of Ireland/Northern Ireland or Ulster do no such thing
Peter, N Ireland
Everyone I speak to is sick and tired of the whole matter. All of these groups who claim to represent the people of Ireland/Northern Ireland or Ulster do no such thing. The facade of community support needs to be stripped away to show the reality - armed gangs committing criminal acts with impunity and holding entire communities in the sway of fear. The events of the last few months are stripping away the myth; it's a shame that a man had to die a horrific death to help achieve this reality check. His family should be proud of themselves for standing up and demanding that his life is worthy of real justice. Sinn Fein have an electoral mandate, as they never tire of reminding us, now they need to take real steps to show the world that they also have a moral mandate.
Peter, N Ireland

I wonder if Sinn Fein would have done as much if this had not been an election year - remember they did nothing until one of the McCartney sisters threatened to stand against Sinn Fein. I also note that despite saying they would do 'everything' to help they still utilise out of date prejudices against the police to avoid doing anything. Finally someone went to great lengths to remove all forensic evidence, so it will be hard to get a prosecution. I have a friend who lives in Belfast and she tells me that everyone knows who did it and most people are still too scared to talk.
Willie, Liverpool

They should hand over details of the expelled people to the police, as should the IRA, who claims to have expelled some of their members. Failure to advise the police surely, is perverting the course of justice. After that they should reflect on the indignation they always show when accused of things. A wise reflection on these points will tell them that they have no place in a civilised society.
Paul B, Oxford

Sinn Fein should decide once and for all that it wants to be a legitimate party that is committed to the democracy
Chris Klein, Chandlers Ford, UK
Sinn Fein should decide once and for all that it wants to be a legitimate party that is committed to the democracy and constitutional authority. It should unequivocally condemn violence and crime and disassociate itself with the IRA. Gerry Adams and the other leaders should resign to make way for people who are committed to these principles.
Chris Klein, Chandlers Ford, UK

The game is finally up, the Irish people are starting to realise that sections of the IRA and its supporters do not want to give up their criminal activities and power over people. Gerry Adams is a very clever man, he has managed to distance Sinn Fein from the IRA. However, it is time to stop sitting on the fence and make a choice. If Sinn Fein is really committed to a democratic and free Ireland it should help to convict those responsible for the. If it does not it should face the full force of the "war on terror".
Chris Parker, Buckingham

What should they decide? To disband any form of military/terrorist groups and to distance themselves from the men of violence. What should Gerry Adams say? That he regrets the death and destruction caused by the IRA in the past and that he and his party are committed to peace in Ireland.
Terry, Epsom, Surrey, England

Sinn Fein should distance itself from criminals and paramilitaries. That includes Adams' and McGuinness' resignations, as whatever their present alleged statuses within the IRA, people associate them with the IRA. Sinn Fein should resolve to become a mainstream political party, without a private army at its back.
John, London UK

Gerry Adams should admit all he knows about the murder and the bank robbery. The party should unite together and all publicly condemn the IRA and all its activities.
Gordon, UK

Sinn Fein compares to a naughty little schoolboy who, after repeated warnings, turns up for class with a flick-knife in his pocket. It may as well do what it always does when trapped like a cornered rat: re-invent itself, repudiate the IRA, rebuke the other parties involved in the power-sharing peace initiative then let everyone down at the very last minute with its lamentable hard luck stories. What's even more sad is that, forty years on, we're all still falling for it.
Patrick V Staton, Guildford, UK

Whatever Sinn Fein does or decides, it will never be good enough for the DUP
Paul, England
Whatever Sinn Fein does or decides, it will never be good enough for the DUP. However, Sinn Fein has crossed a rubicon by expelling the seven members, and the three governments (US, UK and Irish) will have taken note. Gerry Adams still needs to deal with the Northern Bank raid claims, but he can take a more statesmanlike approach now.
Paul, England

Sinn Fein put enormous effort into having the Royal Ulster Constabulary remodelled as the Police Service of Northern Ireland so that it could represent the whole community. Now they have to trust that police force and hand over any information they may have on the murder. Otherwise they may as well not have bothered. Laws are there to protect the whole community.
Kathy, UK

Sinn Fein will never change its spots. It made me feel ill when this government allowed them to move into a plush office at Westminster, and they have ducked and dived over the years to avoid honouring their obligations.
Andy, Manchester, England

Apologise for the misery it has caused and wind up its activities.
Andrew, London

I think we are seeing the death throes of an organisation losing its political power to legitimate political parties. If Sinn Fein wants to be included in those ranks, they need to start distancing themselves from a dying breed.
Katherine, London, UK

What should Mr Adams say? "I resign".
P Fluck, Epsom Downs, England


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