In the five-page statement, the IRA said it held two meetings with the McCartney family — one prior to its first statement, issued more than a week ago, and lasting over five hours, and the second after the Sinn Fein ard fheis.
During those meetings, it said, it named the four men involved in the murder, including two of its own members who have admitted their role and have been expelled from the organization. The IRA said it had ordered those two men to hand themselves over and they had agreed to do so.
It asked the McCartney family if they wanted the men involved shot, in which case it would have done so, but, it said, the McCartney family had said they wanted the men brought before the courts instead.
One man, the IRA statement said, stabbed both Robert McCartney and Brendan Devine. It’s understood that this man was an IRA member and did agree to hand himself over but has since gone missing. A second kicked McCartney while he was on the ground and a third man hit both Brendan Devine and a friend of theirs with a steel bar.
A fourth man took the knife from the kitchen of Magennis’s Bar and later destroyed it, said the IRA statement, and the same man took the CCTV tape, after threatening a member of the bar staff, and burned clothes after the attack. The IRA statement said it has ordered all those responsible to come forward and give evidence.
Through a third, independent party (which it does not name), the IRA said it has given categorical assurances to witnesses that they have nothing to fear by giving evidence to whatever avenue they choose.
The IRA statement said claims that 12 of its members were involved are not accurate. Of the four involved in the murder and stabbing, two were IRA members and two were not. The only interest the IRA has in the case, it said, is to see truth and justice done.
At a second meeting with the McCartney family this week, it said, it reiterated, in the presence of the independent party, its position that witnesses had nothing to fear. It named all those involved to the family and told them that they had all been ordered to give a full and honest account of their actions.
It said that, predictably, its opponents and enemies who have their own agendas have used the brutal killing to attack republicans and advance their own narrow interests. The public will make its own judgment, it said.
In an immediate reaction to the IRA statement, SDLP South Down MP Eddie McGrady denounced the IRA’s offer to shoot the killer of Robert McCartney.
“This obscene proposal by the IRA to kill the alleged murderers of Robert
McCartney is sinking to the lowest depths of terror in the community,” McGrady said.
“Irrespective of what crime a person is accused of, we must always safeguard
the fundamental right of a fair trial, and if found guilty, a fair sentence.
“This appalling proposal is an extremely dangerous slide into anarchy and is
a threat to the entire community of Northern Ireland,” McGrady said.