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Last Updated: Monday, 14 March, 2005, 18:37 GMT
Second SF candidate 'was in bar'
Cora Groogan (left) and Deirdre Hargey
Cora Groogan (left) and Deirdre Hargey were in the bar on the night
A second Sinn Fein election candidate was in a Belfast bar on the night a man was murdered following an argument there, the party has confirmed.

Deirdre Hargey, 23, who plans to stand in May's election to Belfast City Council, was in Magennis's bar on the night Robert McCartney was killed.

In a statement to a solicitor, Ms Hargey said she saw nothing.

However, Mr McCartney's sister, Catherine, said she should give a direct account to the police ombudsman.

"They should stop giving notes, this isn't misbehaviour in the classroom," she said.

"Giving statements to solicitors is absolute nonsense.

"They should go to the police ombudsman who has skilled investigators. Gerry Adams himself said to do that."

Ms McCartney also appealed for any other party members who were in the bar to disclose what they saw.

"Some of these people don't have a problem with the police, they just pretend they do," she added.

Robert McCartney's sisters

Mr McCartney, 33, was stabbed to death after a row in the bar on 30 January.

Earlier, the family accused Sinn Fein of covering up the fact assembly candidate Cora Groogan was also there.

Ms Groogan, who stood in the Mid Ulster constituency in 2003, has also said she did not witness anything in the bar.

She said she has given a full statement to her solicitor.

However, Mr McCartney's sister, Paula, said that in her opinion the situation "stinks of a cover-up".

She said Ms Groogan had a duty to present any evidence she may have before a court.

"The fact that it has been six weeks and she is only putting that statement in now, with the full knowledge that a solicitor is an inadequate way of gathering knowledge," she said.

"She may feel that what she saw was unimportant - I think that is for the police to decide.

"I believe it was her public duty - she should have gone straight to the police with this."

Ms McCartney added that the fact Miss Groogan had waited so long to come forward had led the family to wonder about how many Sinn Fein or IRA members were in the bar on the night of the murder.

Robert McCartney, 33, was killed near Belfast city centre
Robert McCartney, 33, was killed near Belfast city centre

Ms Groogan confirmed on Saturday she had been among 70 people in Magennis's bar on the night in question.

Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness has said he believed any information Ms Groogan may have on the killing should be passed on to the police ombudsman.

"I only learned of Cora Groogan's presence when I was at the by-election count in Meath (at the weekend) and obviously it came as a big surprise to me," he said.

"That said, Cora has now made a statement and that should be sent to the police ombudsman."

The family are travelling to Washington to meet President George W Bush later this week.

How Sinn Fein is faring amid bitter criticism

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