Northern Ireland: Horrific murder enrages local community
THOUSANDS OF people have attended protest vigils in Catholic working-class areas of Belfast over the last two weeks. It has not been against the British state or loyalist attacks or for justice and equality but against the republican movement.
The protesters accuse the IRA of protecting the killers of Robert McCartney, who came from the Short Strand, a working-class, Catholic enclave in largely Protestant East Belfast.
On 30 January, Robert McCartney was surrounded and stabbed to death by a gang outside a city centre bar. The attackers allegedly included a high-ranking IRA officer and several other IRA members.
The incident began as a pub row but after the killing the bar was cleaned up and none of the estimated 70 people who witnessed the attack has spoken to the police. However, Robert McCartney's family spoke out publicly, demanding that the killers be brought to justice. They condemn the IRA for protecting the killers and held protest vigils.
Reflecting the intense pressure on the republican movement from Catholic working-class areas, the IRA made a statement, urging Robert's killers to take responsibility for their actions. Gerry Adams and other Sinn Fein leaders condemned the killing. Last week, the IRA expelled three of its members, including a former high-ranking IRA member in Belfast.
However, the McCartney family demand that all 12 people involved in the killing should face justice. Joe Higgins, Socialist Party TD (Member of the Irish Parliament), for Dublin West, recently spoke out in Dail Eireann (the Irish Parliament) in support of the Belfast community protests.
Joe also highlighted the hypocritical role of the British and Irish governments, which have no genuine interest in allowing working class communities, Catholic and Protestant, to "live in an atmosphere where democratic, human and political rights are respected and guaranteed".`