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NORTHERN IRELAND: Of cowards and brutes...
Annual article: A year in developments in Northern Ireland reviewed.
The Whole Hog, 20 Dec 2005
It began with a bang. The biggest bank raid ever, in fact. The IRA was blamed, and the fall-out was massive. Although the IRA denied involvement, they were not believed. Government and opposition parties bitterly attacked Sinn Féin, telling the party that all criminal activity must end.
Well, easier said than done. In February the sisters and fiancée of Robert McCartney launched a campaign against the IRA protection of the persons who murdered their brother.
The IRA started by saying it wasn’t involved in the murder. But its members were, and others covered up for them. After a good deal of pressure, three people were expelled. It was a major embarrassment for the IRA, as the sisters had been Sinn Féin supporters.
The campaign grew. People were named – a Sunday Tribune headline said ‘a sadist, a paedophile and a pervert killed McCartney’. According to Suzanne Breen, seven were involved in the killing and a further seven in the clean-up.
Other republican families followed, like Josephine Milnes, whose son Stephen Montgomery was killed in a hit and run accident.
Later in the year the McCartney sisters came to Dublin to show support for the family of Joseph Rafferty who was shot dead by an IRA gunman in a west Dublin housing estate in April. According to his family the murder was ‘a carbon copy’ of Robert McCartney’s killing. Rafferty had been threatened after he ‘stood up to’ a person who assaulted his younger sister.
Garda sources confirmed that the suspect in the murder had been a member of the IRA. The dead man’s family added that he was active in Sinn Féin. That party’s Daithi Doolan described the murder as a ‘cowardly and brutal act’ and said that those responsible should be brought to justice.
Yes, but how, when they are protected by a code of omerta of which Sicilian Mafiosi would be proud? The McCartneys suffered for their stubbornness, eventually having to leave their homes. Their campaign ebbed.
Others see this and understand. They recognise the same behaviours and implications as are found amongst gangsters in Dublin, Limerick and Cork. The difference is that Sinn Féin purports to be a political and democratic organisation, not a gang of thieves and murderers.