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March 03, 2005

03/03/05 - SF Suspends 7 Members

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03/03/05 16:44 EST

Seven members of Sinn Féin have been suspended from the
party following allegations that they were involved in the
murder of Belfast father-of-two Robert McCartney, party
President Gerry Adams said tonight.

Mr Adams said he was informed the seven were allegedly
implicated after he made inquiries about a list of
republicans the McCartney family said were involved in the
murder of their brother in a bar on January 30th.

"As party president, I immediately instructed the leadership
of Sinn Féin in Belfast to establish if any of those named
by the family were members of Sinn Féin," he said.

"I was informed that seven of those named are members. All
were immediately suspended from the party. This is on a
without prejudice basis."

The West Belfast MP said if the seven were found to have
been involved in events surrounding the death of Mr
McCartney once the case had gone through the proper legal
process, the party would take further internal disciplinary
action to expel them.

They would also be expelled if they do not provide truthful
accounts about what happened, he insisted.

Mr Adams's warning followed last week's announcement from
the IRA that it had expelled three members of its
organisation following an internal investigation into Mr
McCartney's murder.

Also today, a senior republican questioned by police about
the murder denied ordering the attack.

Gerard "Jock" Davison also refused to be drawn on claims he
was one of three members of the IRA expelled last week.

And in a newspaper saidhe insisted: "There is not a
snowball's chance in hell that I would even involve myself
in an incident like that . . . I totally refute that
allegation, it's wrong, it's unfair on me."

His comments came as the sisters of Robert McCartney planned
a possible visit to Washington during St Patrick's Day
celebrations as part of their campaign to get justice for
their brother's killing.

Although the police have questioned a number of people about
the attack on the 33-year-old and another man in a Belfast
city center bar on January 30th, no one has been charged.

In an interview with the Belfast-based Daily Ireland
newspaper, Mr Davison confirmed he had been in the bar when
the row broke out and had tried to intervene to calm down
the situation. He said he was stabbed in the hand after
getting caught in a brawl but did not know what had happened
to Mr McCartney.

Mr Davison added that he supported the McCartney family's
quest for justice and did not believe potential witnesses
have been intimidated from going to the police or solicitors
with eyewitness accounts of what happened.

"I understand that the family is going through hell but
there is more than one victim in this," he said. "I was
stabbed as well . . . I know they lost their brother. I
support their quest for justice, I support it
wholeheartedly. I lost a member of my family who was killed
by the cops and I argue for justice in that case, so I have
total support for everything they are trying to do and I do
support them but as I said to you at the outset of all of
this, this is a political arrest."

Mr Davison said he had also offered to meet the McCartney
family but they had refused. He said as a republican he
wanted people to come forward with information.

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