The family of murdered Belfast father-of-two Robert McCartney were today considering security arrangements after receiving threats that they would be burnt out of their homes and business.
Police in Belfast visited Catherine, Donna, Paula, Gemma and Claire McCartney and Robert’s partner Bridgeen Hagans last night and told them the threats came from “criminal elements”.
Catherine McCartney said: “They told us that the threat to burn us out of our homes and to burn down Donna’s business came from criminal elements.
“These threats tonight are not going to deter us, and they illustrate the type of people we are dealing with.
“We are told they are coming from criminal elements but we would like to know exactly what that means. Does that mean criminal elements from within a terrorist organisation?”
Catherine and Paula McCartney said the family was taking the threat seriously. Their sister Donna runs a sandwich shop and confectionery.
The IRA expelled three members for their role in the brutal stabbing and beating of Robert McCartney outside a Belfast city centre bar on January 30.
The murder followed a row with republicans.
Despite appeals from the family, police and politicians for information about the murder, detectives have encountered a wall of silence from up to 70 people who are believed to have been in the bar when the row started.
Sinn Féin has also expelled two members for failing to follow orders from Gerry Adams to do everything in their power to help the McCartneys’ quest for justice.
The family are nevertheless unhappy with how the party has handled their brother’s murder, especially since it emerged that former Belfast councillor Sean Hayes and two prospective local government election candidates, Cora Groogan and Deirdre Hargey, were among those in the pub.
Because of Sinn Féin’s refusal to recognise the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the party has also advised members who were in the bar to give statements through their solicitors to pass onto Northern Ireland’s Police Ombudsman.
The McCartneys believe that is unsatisfactory, arguing that witnesses should not go through their solicitors but go directly to the PSNI or Ombudsman.
The threat to the McCartneys came just days after the European Parliament backed moves by the family to secure funding from the EU for a civil action against Robert’s killers should criminal proceedings not take place.