The renaming of a Belfast bar where a man was brutally beaten and stabbed to death by IRA members provoked outrage today.
One of Robert McCartney’s sisters accused the new owner of trying to whitewash the past.
Magennis’s Bar, a stone’s throw from the Republican Markets area, is now called Ronnie Drew's – named after the famous founding member of the Irish folk group The Dubliners who died last year.
Drew’s son said he was horrified his pacifist father’s name was being associated with a place where such a barbaric murder took place four years ago.
Robert McCartney’s sister Paula said: “It is obvious what they are doing, they are trying to whitewash the past.
“But as far as Belfast is concerned changing the name is not going to do anything – the stigma has well and truly stuck.”
However, she said tourists should know they could be drinking next to a murderer.
Despite a lengthy trial no-one has been brought to justice for the murder – it has been claimed members of the IRA forensically cleaned the bar and surrounding area to remove all evidence.
Ms McCartney added: “There are a lot of visitors to Belfast who might go in there and they would not know that the people involved in the murder are still drinking there.
“The bar didn’t murder Robert, it was the people in it and the people need to change, not the name of the bar.”
Ronnie Drew’s family were not consulted about the name change and his son Phelim said he had already spoken to his solicitor since hearing the news today.
He said he was not going to jump to any knee-jerk reaction, adding: “We don’t know anything about the people who own the place.”
But he said: “Both my sister and I are angry that our father’s name has been used so soon after his death without our permission, by anybody.
“We are horrified that as he was a pacifist that his name is being associated with a place where such a barbaric murder took place.
“My father would have been extremely sympathetic to the McCartney sisters.”
A large picture of Mr Drew in his later life with trademark white beard has been etched on one window and another of the five member group in years past on another.
The bar has changed hands several times since Mr McCartney was murdered outside after a row with IRA members inside. The new owner was not available for comment today.
However, the recently appointed manager – identified only as Johnny – said: “We’ve had no complaints about the name change, the customers seem to like it. It is going to be a music pub.”