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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 March, 2005, 21:44 GMT
SF suspends members over killing
Robert McCartney
Robert McCartney, 33, was killed near Belfast city centre
Sinn Fein has suspended seven of its members over their alleged involvement in the murder of Robert McCartney.

Party President Gerry Adams said the move was taken pending the outcome of the legal process.

Mr McCartney, 33, a father of two, died after being stabbed near Belfast city centre on 30 January 2005 after a row in a bar.

His family has said some republicans were involved in the killing and its cover-up.

Mr Adams said if any of the seven were found to have been involved, Sinn Fein would take action to expel them.

Two men have been arrested over the murder in the past week, but both have been released without charge.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams
Mr Adams said seven party members had been suspended
Mr Adams said the family handed him a list of people they say were involved in the murder at a meeting last month.

He said seven of those on the list were Sinn Fein members and have been suspended without prejudice and told "to provide full and frank statements".

"All of those involved in this horrific incident must make themselves fully accountable for their actions. Nothing short of this is acceptable," Mr Adams said.

"I have made clear my support for the family in their search for justice and have called upon those involved in the killing and others with information about the killing to bring this information forward."

He added that Sinn Fein "has no basis to make any allegations against any of these suspended members" and has instructed a solicitor to pass the list of names from the McCartney family to the Police Ombudsman.

Primates' view

Meanwhile, the Church of Ireland and Catholic primates have spoken about the campaign in the Short Strand area of Belfast over the McCartney murder.

Archbishop Robin Eames said it sent out a message to loyalist areas that the paramilitaries faced their greatest challenge from ordinary people uniting against them.

Archbishop Sean Brady said that the courage of the McCartney family was an example of how the power of love can render weak the efforts of those who bully communities.

The church leaders were taking part in an ecumenical lecture in Dublin on Thursday.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said intimidation had to end.

"The real question is not whether people are suspended from Sinn Fein," he said.

"It is whether or not those responsible for the murder of Robert McCartney are brought to justice. For that to happen, the intimidation that is ongoing has to end - nothing less than that will do."

The events leading to the Sinn Fein statement

Family calls on IRA to admit link
03 Mar 05 |  Northern Ireland
SF reject McCartney police motion
02 Mar 05 |  Northern Ireland
Man released in McCartney probe
02 Mar 05 |  Northern Ireland
Killers urged to 'come forward'
27 Feb 05 |  Northern Ireland
'IRA' bar victim's family praised
27 Feb 05 |  Northern Ireland
McCartney family to hold rally
27 Feb 05 |  Northern Ireland
IRA expels three after killing
26 Feb 05 |  Northern Ireland

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