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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 July 2006, 17:59 GMT 18:59 UK
McCartneys call for CRJ rethink
McCartney sisters
Catherine and Paula McCartney expressed concerns
The sisters of Belfast murder victim Robert McCartney have called for a rethink on government proposals for NI community restorative justice schemes.

Speaking in London on Wednesday, Paula and Catherine McCartney recommended more scrutiny of the scheme, and the individuals who took part in it.

Catherine McCartney said she felt plans for implementation of the scheme had not been well thought out.

She said the schemes were "second-rate justice".

Robert McCartney, a 33-year-old father of two, was stabbed to death near Belfast city centre in January 2005.

His family have blamed republicans for his murder and what they say was a subsequent cover-up of it.

They have also recently made allegations about the activities of community restorative justice members in the Short Strand area of east Belfast.

"In theory the principle of restorative justice is fine, it's a valid principle," Catherine McCartney said.

Robert McCartney
Robert McCartney was stabbed to death in January 2005

"But I don't think the British government - and why would they - understand the context of how it works on the ground in areas like the Short Strand and the Markets."

Meanwhile, SDLP leader Mark Durkan discussed the issue with Conservative leader David Cameron on Wednesday.

"We raised our concerns with Mr Cameron that the government proposals could in fact provide for state-paid vigilantes and paramilitary control," Mr Durkan said.

"We are demanding that the culture of paramilitary control ends in communities before restorative justice groups in those communities can be funded.

"Mr Cameron said he would be raising his concerns with the prime minister."

The government has said the community restorative justice schemes, which seek to bring victims and offenders together, were "not an alternative to policing".

A number of the schemes are currently in operation in both republican and loyalist areas.

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