Ombudsman to release file on 2005 Robert McCartney murder

Dr Michael Maguire, the Police Ombudsman. (Picture Colm O'Reilly Presseye)
Dr Michael Maguire, the Police Ombudsman. (Picture Colm O'Reilly Presseye)

The Police Ombudsman is due to publish its report on the murder of Robert McCartney in the Markets area of Belfast some 13 years after his brutal death.

The body confirmed the release date after being approached by the News Letter this week.

Murder victim Robert McCartney. Photo: PA

Murder victim Robert McCartney. Photo: PA

The 33-year-old father of two died in the street from knife wounds after a fracas erupted in Magennis’ bar in 2005. His death was widely blamed on IRA members and came at a fragile time politically – before the IRA had decommissioned or Sinn Fein had signed up to policing.

Despite the large number of people in the bar when the row began, no-one reported seeing anything.

The Police Ombudsman took statements from around a dozen members of Sinn Fein who were in the bar, but who were not prepared to engage with the PSNI at that time.

Despite attempted prosecutions, nobody has ever been convicted for the murder.

The ombudsman told the News Letter this week that it was almost ready to release its report.

“We have completed our enquiries and are currently finalising a report on our findings, which will be provided to the family in the coming weeks,” it said.

The matter arose again after the DUP and SDLP at Belfast City Council prepared a motion calling on Sinn Fein members who were in the pub to come forward to the PSNI - and for the ombudsman to finally release its report.

Robert’s sister, Catherine McCartney, said: “I will be glad when it is finally completed but what is actually in it is a different thing altogether.”

She does not have her hopes up for the report. The ombudsman played a key role in the investigation, which it is not set up to do, she said. “I have never believed there was a proper investigation.”