Article from the Mar. 2005 issue of the Socialist
newspaper of the Socialist Party, Irish section of the CWI

Joe Higgins Column - Robert McCartney murder

WHEN I had an opportunity to speak briefly in the Dail on 2 March about the murder of Robert McCartney, I began by saying: "Clearly when the monsters who disfigured Brendan Devine and inflicted unspeakable violence on Robert McCartney thought they could escape accountability by cynically organising a forensic cleaning at the crime scene and by intimidating witnesses, they did not reckon on the intervention of six formidable working-class women, the McCartney sisters and Bridgeen Hagans.

I salute them for their resilience, courage and determination. They have challenged the intimidation of the bullies who became so used to strutting around the Short Strand and Markets areas, they thought they could literally get away with murder."

I met the McCartney sisters and Robert McCartney's partner, Bridgeen Hagans, when they came to Leinster House a week before. They were meeting the political parties and I set up a meeting with eight independent deputies. Subsequently, leading representatives of the Socialist Party in Belfast and myself had a meeting with the McCartneys in the Short Strand. We expressed our willingness to give any assistance we could to the campaign to bring the killers to justice.

In particular, we outlined how we could assist in the mobilisation of the student movement and the trade union ranks, should the family call a rally outside the pub where the crime took place.

The McCartneys are driven by a burning determination to have those who killed Robert called to account. They have provided a glimpse of how people power could assert itself in working-class areas in the North. Many people have been bullied into silence by the paramilitaries when they inflicted violence, including in extreme cases murder, on their families. They may now be encouraged to openly call for all paramilitary killers to be called to account. The McCartneys intend to accept an invitation to Washington for St Patrick's Day. In the course of the same debate mentioned above, I pointed out in shorthand the view of the Socialist Party in saying: "It is ironic that it is suggested that the McCartney family might be invited to the White House by President Bush, a man who has visited unspeakable violence on others. I warned that justice for Robert McCartney will not be found in the White House or any other big house but on the streets and in the communities of Northern Ireland in the form of the mobilisation of the community that is taking place."

Naturally, George Bush will see it as an opportunity to portray himself as a champion of justice for an innocent man brutally murdered - the same kind of innocent people that his invasion of Iraq slaughtered in their thousands.

I do understand the McCartney's anxiety to have the maximum pressure put on the IRA and Sinn Fein to see that the intimidation of witnesses in the Short Strand and Markets areas is stopped. They feel that bringing this message to the United States will increase that pressure, as Sinn Fein has support structures and large money raising ventures there.

However, we have to say that it would be better not to include Bush's regime in the campaign.

We will of course help the on-going campaign of the McCartney family in any way that we can in both the North and the South.

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