A senior Sinn Féin representative today said he did not believe the latest threat against the family of murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney came from republicans.
Sinn Féin’s chief negotiator Martin McGuinness said he took a poor view of anyone threatening the sisters or fiancee of Robert, who was was beaten and stabbed to death outside a bar on January 30.
Mr McGuinness said: “I don’t believe it is from republicans and Gerry Adams has already said that he doesn’t believe it either.”
The sisters of Robert, who have been campaigning for his killers to be brought to justice, told of their worry as this second threat appeared more sophisticated than the one from “criminal elements” earlier this month.
One of Robert’s sisters, Catherine, spoke of her concern after the PSNI confirmed on Friday night that the latest threat against the family was from “republican elements”.
She said: “This threat implies that republican elements are going to take action against the McCartney family if they continue to discredit the republican movement.”
The family spokeswoman added: “We understand the wording of it is that it was from republican elements, the last threat specified criminal elements.”
On the latest threat against the family, Mr McGuinness said: “Of course if threats are being issued against the McCartneys in all likelihood they are being issued by people who are totally opposed to republicanism or even people who have brought republicanism into disrepute in the course of recent times.
“I take a very dim view of anyone issuing any threats against the McCartneys what we have to understand here is that the McCartneys have a just cause, they are seeking truth and justice for the murder of their brother.”
Catherine said on Friday night that it appeared the language in the latest threat was more sophisticated than the first one from “criminal elements”.
Earlier this month police visited the sisters – and Mr McCartney’s partner Bridgeen Hagans – at their Short Strand home to tell them “criminal elements” were threatening to burn down their homes and the business one of them runs.
The women believe they are being targeted by republicans for their campaign to bring their brother’s killer to justice.
Mr McCartney was stabbed in a pub frequented by republicans and his family believes the IRA was involved in the murder, with one accusing Sinn Féin of not doing all it could to help bring the killers to justice.