Justice For Robert Campaign being waged by the McCartney
women continues to surge ahead much to the consternation
of those who thought and wished that it would collapse
after it had peaked with its tour de force of the
USA. Mediocre scribblers who informed their readers
that the Stakeknife story was dead within a week
of monopolising the front pages are now trying the
same con again, arguing that the McCartney campaign
is dying on its feet. They must think imbecility
is infectious and that they can pass it on to the
rest of us. Wish is indeed father to the thought.
to the disappointment of their detractors, it has
been reported today that the six women have been
nominated for the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award.
It is a prestigious Scottish acknowledgement of
those who have displayed humanitarian concern over
and above the norm. Earlier in the week the European
parliament decided to cough up the money to help
back a civil prosecution against those the women
believe were responsible for the murder of Robert
McCartney if the current PSNI investigation fails
to secure results.
Post-America, the campaign has certainly gone down
a gear or two but in a measured fashion. It shows
little sign of spluttering to the halt its opponents
long for. Despite a robust election foray by Sinn
Fein, where those hasty or eager to predict the
grounding of the party were left to lick their own
wounds, the McCartney women seem like a spectre
haunting the Provisional leadership wherever it
is possible only to speculate about the impact of
the January murder of Robert McCartney on Sinn Fein's
performance. In the Short Strand, candidate Deborah
Devenney's protestations notwithstanding, the party
lost a council seat it would almost certainly have
retained had the murder not occurred. There is some
suggestion that Alex Maskey suffered in the South
Belfast Westminster constituency as a result. However,
Maskey was as likely a victim of the sectarianism
that the Good Friday Agreement has helped sustain.
Many nationalists in South Belfast in their determination
to prevent unionism getting the seat may have considered
it an easier task to shunt Alasdair McDonnell over
the finishing line and subsequently tactically deserted
the Maskey camp.
former Belfast mayor later, very lucidly and perceptively,
explained that the McCartney issue and other events
rather than causing Sinn Fein's vote to fall had
arrested its climb. Certainly the DUP growth spurt
wasn't matched on the nationalist side by Sinn Fein's
performance. The party's discomfort on the issue
was underlined this week when its two MEPs were
part of a minority that opposed a motion in support
of the women in the parliament* (see
Editor's Note). Against them stood some
500+ parliamentarians from across the length and
breadth of Europe. Bairbre de Brun's subsequent
pedestrian defence of her party's stand in Strasbourg
is unlikely to have changed many minds.
the issue has been fuelled by a combination of ineptitude
and threats. One former prisoner in a letter to
the Irish News - in a useless bid to challenge
an earlier scathing critique of the McCartney murderers
made by another former prisoner - managed only to
depict himself as the spokesperson on behalf of
'the right to knife innocent drinkers but escape
being termed criminal' lobby. How dare the women,
he suggested, protest or hold vigils for justice.
idiocy aroused a phalanx of indignant respondents
whose rejoinders mercilessly slapped down the counsel
for the accused. The volume of letters received
in response to this apologia for lovable old knife
murderers indicated how out of touch with wider
sentiment the apologist was. Sinn Fein, probably
embarrassed that someone with such a skewed sense
of justice could describe himself as an activist,
were to face even more discomfort when the PSNI
visited the McCartney women to inform them of a
threat to burn them out of their homes and businesses.
The issue was once again grabbing the headlines.
Although there isn't the slightest evidence to link
Sinn Fein to the threats, and the letter writing
apologist seems to be critical of his former leadership's
response to the murder, the party's failure, whether
through unwillingness or inability, to move the
situation towards resolution remains very much in
the public spotlight.
weeks after the death of Robert McCartney some seem
so upset that the campaign has not petered out that
they now view the women as mediaeval witches who
should be burned for the sin of demanding justice.
Yet it seems the women will continue undeterred
and ultimately they, rather than the witch hunters,
will continue to hold feet to the fire.
Editor's Note: Sinn Fein's MEPs, Bairbre de Brun
and Mary Lou McDonald, both voted
against paragraphs 1 and 3 of the McCartney resolution,
and abstained from the vote endorsing the complete
resolution. They were not of the 4 that voted