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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 November 2005, 14:48 GMT
McCartney sisters refuse accolade
Gemma, Paula and Catherine McCartney
Two of the sisters refused to collect the award in London
The sisters of a murdered Belfast man have refused to share a platform with Margaret Thatcher claiming she had "inflicted injuries" on Ireland.

Robert McCartney's sisters had been expected to collect an award at the Women of the Year Awards in London.

However, Claire and Catherine McCartney declined to pick up the accolade due to Baroness Thatcher's presence.

Mr McCartney, 33, was stabbed to death outside a Belfast bar in January. Two men have been charged over his murder.

Baroness Thatcher, a former UK prime minister, was at the ceremony to collect an award.

Mr McCartney's family have campaigned for justice for their murdered brother and claim they have been intimidated by the IRA.

A statement from the sisters said: "Our campaign is one of justice and as an Irish republican family, we feel that we cannot share the same platform as a former prime minister who inflicted injuries on our country."

The award organisers said the McCartney sisters declined the Women of the Year's Outstanding Achievement Award "due to circumstances they only became aware of this morning".

"However, Women of the Year would like to reiterate that they are proud to recognise their remarkable achievements and to offer them all our continued support."

Their campaign has taken them from east Belfast to the White House - meeting US President George Bush in Washington in March and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

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