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All avenues of information should be kept open - Ó Caoláin

2 March, 2005


Sinn Féin Dáil group leader, Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD in extending his sympathy to the McCartney family on the "brutal murder of Robert" said he saluted "their courage and determination to achieve truth and justice." Deputy Ó Caoláin reiterated the Party's call for "anyone with information to come forward with that information."

He went on to say, "Because we want to see truth and justice for the McCartney family we should not close off any avenue through which information or evidence can be brought to light. Sinn Féin has not sought to close off any avenue.

"Sinn Féin supports the thrust of the Fine Gael motion. We do not want to delete one word of it. However, in failing to recognise a reality that even the PSNI itself concedes, the final paragraph restricts the means by which information may be given in order to help bring the killers to justice. For this reason Sinn Féin asked Fine Gael to accept our amendment which does not detract one iota, but adds to the motion before us. Their refusal is

very regrettable.

"I have to say with regret that the refusal of the Fine Gael party to accept a reasonable proposition, and their contributions and those of others in the House, shows what I can only call a cynical exploitation of this very serious issue and for the narrowest of political motives.

"If this essential amendment is defeated we must very regrettably withhold our endorsement of the motion before us and only because it is too narrow in its construction.

"Make no mistake, we are not interested in engaging in a party political battle on this issue. Some may be satisfied with a headline tomorrow "Sinn Féin isolated‚ as an outcome of tonight‚s debate. I believe what the vast majority of people are interested in are truth and justice for the bereaved and that is what we in Sinn Féin will continue to pursue."

Deputy Ó Caoláin was also highly critical of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, who he said was "blinded by his own deep-rooted antipathy towards Sinn Féin". The Cavan/Monaghan TD said, "The logic of that u-turn and of all the information now before this House is that every Deputy who truly wants to see justice served in this deplorable case should accept and support the amendment put forward by the Sinn Féin deputies.

Full text

All avenues of information should be kept open

On my own behalf and on behalf of my fellow Sinn Féin TDs I extend deepest sympathy to the McCartney family. The brutal murder of Robert devastated a family and shocked a local community deeply. I met with the McCartney family and Robert's partner here in Leinster House last week and I salute their courage and their determination to achieve truth and justice.

As the Sinn Féin leadership locally and nationally has done many times, I reiterate the call for anyone with information on this murder and the circumstances surrounding it to come forward with that information and to actively assist the family. I want to put on record some of what Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said today:

"My clear intention ∑ was to encourage those who have information to make that information available so that whoever is responsible for the killing of Robert McCartney is brought to justice. I note that this has not happened. And although many people have come forward - others have not, particularly some who may have been directly involved in Robert's murder. In my view these people must give a full account through whatever conduit they choose.

"I want also to restate with absolute clarity that whoever killed Robert McCartney should come forward and take responsibility for this. That is what I meant when I said that if I was involved I would make myself accountable to the courts. So far Robert McCartney's killer has not had the courage to do this. Self-preservation and selfishness will not prevail in this case. I am not letting this issue go until those who have sullied the republican cause are made to account for their action."

Because we want to see truth and justice for the McCartney family we should not close off any avenue through which information or evidence can be brought to light. Sinn Féin has not sought to close off any avenue. People have gone to the PSNI and I have no doubt others will do so. That is their right and no-one should stand in their way. There are others who do not trust or support the PSNI ˆ and not because of what Sinn Féin says but because of their own experiences and that of the communities they come from at the hands of the Northern state. For those people there are other

avenues which can and must be used if they have relevant information.

This fact has been pointed out by the McCartney family themselves who have said that those with valid reasons for not going to the PSNI should go to a solicitor, the Police Ombudsman or whoever they are comfortable with. Hugh Orde said today he would encourage people to go through a third party if they did not feel confident about going to the PSNI directly. He compared it to his experiences in London, where "some communities who didn't trust us" would go through third parties.

The PSNI also recognised this reality when they began the re-investigation of the loyalist killing of Sean Brown in Bellaghy, Co. Derry. They issued an appeal which encouraged people to use a named firm of solicitors or the Pat Finucane Centre to bring forward information as an alternative to dealing directly with the PSNI. Deputy Kenny‚s efforts to portray this otherwise merit only contempt.

And I note that this evening it has been announced that the Police Ombudsman will take statements on the murder of Robert McCartney.

Sinn Féin supports the thrust of the Fine Gael motion. We do not want to delete one word of it. However, in failing to recognise a reality that even the PSNI itself concedes, the final paragraph restricts the means by which information may be given in order to help bring the killers to justice. For this reason Sinn Féin asked Fine Gael to accept our amendment which does not detract one iota, but adds to the motion before us. Their refusal is very regrettable.

Time does not allow me to respond to the stream of party political invective against Sinn Féin that we heard here last night and again tonight. I have to say with regret that the refusal of the Fine Gael party to accept a reasonable proposition, and their contributions and those of others in the House, shows what I can only call a cynical exploitation of this very serious issue and for the narrowest of political motives.

Misinformation has been flung around this chamber, not least by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Last night he stated: "The only information that will help put the killers of Robert McCartney behind bars is information given directly to the PSNI which will lead to statements that can be used as evidence in a court of law." The Minister had to alter his emphatic position of last evening when the PSNI itself recognized that there were other ways to bring forward information. And so the Minister who, like so many others, was blinded by his own deep-rooted antipathy towards Sinn Féin, had to do a complete u-turn today and faced reality when he said people could use other avenues also. The logic of that u-turn and of all the information now before this House is that every Deputy who truly wants to see justice served in this deplorable case should accept and support the amendment put forward by the Sinn Féin deputies. If this essential amendment is defeated we must very regrettably withhold our endorsement of the motion before us and only because it is too narrow in its construction.

Make no mistake, we are not interested in engaging in a party political battle on this issue. Some may be satisfied with a headline tomorrow "Sinn Féin isolated" as an outcome of tonight's debate. I believe what the vast majority of people are interested in are truth and justice for the bereaved and that is what we in Sinn Féin will continue to pursue.

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