Mr McCartney’s fiancee and five sisters sat in a packed public gallery at Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Saturday as Terence Davison was brought into the dock.
Davison, aged 49, is accused of killing the father-of-two outside Magennis’s Bar near the Markets area of south Belfast on January 30.
A second man, 36-year-old James McCormick, also appeared in court charged with the attempted murder of Brendan Devine, who was with Mr McCartney on the night of the murder.
Davison, of Stanfield Place in the Markets area, denies murder.
McCormick, who was arrested on Victoria Road, Stechford in Birmingham but is originally from the Markets area, denies the attempted murder of Mr Devine.
Magistrate Harry McKibbin remanded both men in custody and ordered them to re-appear via video link on July 1.
Speaking outside the Laganside Courthouse after the 15-minute hearing, Paula McCartney said: “The family is relieved that the first step in a very long process is over. It has to be remembered that there was a lot more people involved in Robert’s murder and we won’t be happy until all those people who were involved are brought to account. We are glad that it has arrived at the court because we vehemently believe that everyone is entitled to a fair trial.
Asked how she felt when she set eyes on the accused, Ms McCartney said: “Nauseated would be the word.”