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Last Updated: Monday, 8 October 2007, 17:01 GMT 18:01 UK
McCartneys may leave NI 'to heal'
Gemma, Paula  and Catherine McCartney
The McCartney sisters have fought a campaign since the killing
A sister of murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney has spoken of her need to leave Northern Ireland to try to heal.

Paula McCartney said it was "soul destroying" as the family were continually running into people they believe are linked to the murder.

Mr McCartney, 33, was beaten and stabbed to death outside a bar near Belfast city centre on 30 January 2005.

It is understood Paula is considering moving to Spain, while her sister Catherine may emigrate to Australia.

Paula said: "We are not running away either from Robert's killers or from the campaign. I believe I need not to be in this country for a while, should it be a year or two years or whatever.

"For me, personally, I need healing and I can't do it here."

She said her mother did not have much faith in Northern Ireland and was totally behind her children's decisions.

"For the grandchildren's future, she would encourage that people in her family not live here," she said.

Robert McCartney
Robert McCartney was beaten and stabbed to death two years ago

Her sister Claire said for personal reasons she could not emigrate, but admitted it would have a detrimental effect on her if her sisters moved away.

"It is going to be impossible to move on," she added.

The sisters also said they wanted answers after receiving conflicting responses from the police on Sinn Fein's participation in the investigation.

Catherine said that last week's Policing Board meeting was told Sinn Fein was co-operating and had encouraged members to come forward.

"The impression was given that Sinn Fein had done all they can," she said.

However, she said they had also spoken to the officer investigating the murder who told them that Sinn Fein was "not helpful".

"What I see is that it's all about the politics, it's not about the people. It's about keeping Sinn Fein and the DUP's ship afloat," she said.

'Working meetings'

In a statement, the PSNI said that Assistant Chief Constable Peter Sheridan did not tell the Policing Board there had been full co-operation from Sinn Fein.

"Peter Sheridan told the Policing Board that, in general, police do not discuss the involvement of individuals in criminal investigations because there was an issue of confidentiality for witnesses," the statement said.

"He also said it was a live investigation which was due to come to court in the near future so he was limited in what information he could provide.

"But he confirmed that the detective in charge of the case had had a number of working meetings with representatives of Sinn Fein, at their request.

"At the last meeting, Sinn Fein agreed to look at encouraging members of their party and witnesses to come forward. Up until the date of the Policing Board meeting, no new witnesses had come forward."

Mr McCartney, a father-of-two, died the day after he and his friend were attacked - allegedly by IRA members - inside Magennis' Bar in May Street and then in Cromac Square.

One man has been charged with murder.

In January, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said anyone with information about the murder should go to the police.

Sinn Fein suspended a number of its members after the killing.





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