I wish to share time with the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy McDowell, and Deputy O'Donnell. There may be other speakers on the Government side, also.
Northern Ireland Issues: Motion (Resumed).
I support the motion. It is clear from our discussions in this House that the McCartney case has struck a chord with people North and South, and overseas. It is not hard to see why. First, from what we know of Robert, he is someone with whom many people can identify — a family man respected in his community, with no connections to paramilitarism or criminality. There was nothing to mark him out as someone who might meet with a violent death; nothing, it seems, except his willingness to stand up for himself and his friend against a particularly evil gang of assailants. That courage is a family characteristic, as embodied by his sisters' response to this crime.
Second, the nature of the attack was particularly vicious and brutal. The extent of the injuries to Robert and to his friend, Brendan Devine, tells us much about the nature of the person or people who were involved in the attack. Such senseless violence is frightening in the extreme. It is even more frightening to think that the perpetrators enjoy any sort of organised support, but they do. Despite the words and statements, they have not been handed over to account under the law for what they have done.
Third, as cited in the motion, what happened after the attack is particularly deplorable. It seems the perpetrators of this crime had at their disposal a team of skilled and ruthless accomplices who were immediately ready and willing to remove from Magennis's Bar every trace of forensic evidence which the crime had produced. They were able to be that composed, while Robert McCartney and Brendan Devine were left for dead on the street outside and no medical help was sought.
As we know, destruction of evidence is in itself a crime and, as the McCartney family has said, the people who carried out that crime should also be pursued through the courts.
This brings me to the fourth element of the general revulsion at Robert McCartney's murder. In order to secure a conviction in a society which operates under the rule of law, the courts rely not only on physical evidence but also on statements from witnesses. There were many witnesses to this murder but to my knowledge few, if any, have yet come forward to make a statement that will lead directly to an arrest.
The McCartney family believes, and I have no reason to disagree with them, that this is because they have been intimidated or threatened — another crime. Those involved in witness intimidation must themselves be held accountable before the law. Robert McCartney's life was far too short but in that life he obviously inspired great love and loyalty in his family. The solidarity, bravery and dignity of his sisters and his partner Bridgeen have moved us greatly. They have also been the catalyst for a huge reaction within their own community. They challenged the unspoken rule that paramilitaries and those close to them are somehow untouchable. They challenged the idea that anyone, no matter how well connected, should expect to be able to commit murder and get away with it.
The IRA has expelled three members who are believed to have been involved in this crime. They claim to have "advised" them to take responsibility for their actions but this seems to have been advice which has been easy to ignore. Those involved in intimidation and destruction of evidence have attracted no censure from the IRA. I call on all political parties to be unambiguous in their advice to those with information on this case. Intimidation must stop. Those in a position of influence in this regard should make 100% clear that witnesses should come forward and that any threats against them will not be tolerated.
The McCartneys have asked people to co-operate with the police in securing convictions. No party which claims to support the family's position can at the same time refuse to acknowledge the need to co-operate with the police. Witness statements must be admissible in court to be of any use. They should be given to the investigating police. When this is done, we look forward to a day in the near future when the criminals from Magennis's Bar can be brought before the courts to answer for their crimes. Then we can hope that the Short Strand community can be allowed to heal itself, free of the menace of criminal gangs who claim immunity for acting as part of a republican movement but use it as a licence for their own local status and interests. Try though it may, Sinn Féin cannot avoid dealing with this awful deed. Through the members of the republican movement involved in it, they have colluded in the denials and distractions. They have failed to accept the moral clarity required. They have failed to bring their own paramilitaries to book. If those who wield the armalite can so casually damage their own ballot box, and be protected for it, we may reasonably ask of Sinn Féin which they value more. We will have our answer when they lift their reservations and the killers of Robert McCartney stand in the dock and face justice.
The killing of Robert McCartney was by any standards, as Deputy Kirk has said, a cruel and horrific murder perpetrated by a gang of brutal cowards. That this was done to an innocent victim is bad enough, but that his family and loved ones have been forced to take on themselves an immensely brave, public struggle to bring the perpetrators to justice, compounds the naked evil of his murder.
Having met and spoken to his sisters and his partner here in Dublin, I am lost in admiration for their unique combination of bravery, dignity, determination and hunger for justice. They are not seeking vengeance or retribution, they are merely seeking justice. They could simply have imploded emotionally from the shock, grief and outrage of the savage attack on Robert, which would have been the reaction for most of us faced with their terrible experience. These brave women refused to be trampled down by thuggery, however, and they refused to let the light of justice be snuffed out by fear. Nothing will bring Robert McCartney back from the dead but, equally, nothing will wash away the stain which his killing has left on the provisional movement. Nothing but the arrest, trial and conviction of his murderers will amount to justice in this case. His loved ones are right to insist that the agencies of public justice should have access to the evidence needed to bring his murderers to the bar of justice. We should remember that information and intelligence, no matter how reliable, are not admissible as evidence in courts. There is no substitute for witnesses. Due process, whether North or South, requires that statements of proposed witnesses should be served on the accused before there can be a trial or, for that matter, a conviction.
This is not the first cowardly killing of this type. Torture and mutilation are, I regret to tell the House, part of the Provo's stock-in-trade. The threat of murder drives many, if not all, of their base criminal activities. The greatest provisional republican deceit, which has been swallowed by a small minority of media commentators, is the suggestion that IRA thuggery and criminality is the sole responsibility of the IRA and that Sinn Féin is some separate democratic chrysalis seeking to break out of a paramilitary cocoon and become an exclusively peaceful and democratic butterfly. People pose as liberation politicians but I am afraid that as regards the provisional movement, the truth is more Mugabe than Mandela.
The provisional movement is a single entity which terms itself the republican movement. It has a single leadership. The entire movement, including Sinn Féin, regards that leadership as the authentic source of political legitimacy on this island. Its decisions are law. Its murders are mere executions. Its tortures are but punishments. Its robberies are just legitimate expropriations. Its network of crime and money laundering are merely the financing of the movement. As we all now know, its actions are, by definition, never criminal. The public is beginning to see the shape of the threat to democracy posed by a movement which uses crime on a massive scale to engage in politics. What has been on view in recent weeks is but the tip of an iceberg. While the public were led to believe that the provisional movement was struggling internally to leap directly, in a clean break, from paramilitarism to politics, the truth was a little more complex. It was, and is, that the army council was preparing to transform the provisional movement by stealth into one in which the political loss-making "hardware division" of the IRA, with its semtex, kalashnikovs, rockets and missiles, was to be replaced with a lightly-armed IRAgendarmerie. The latter would in future act as the enforcers for the criminal and control strategy underpinning Sinn Féin’s drive for political power. We now know that the IRA was not planning to go away. It was planning to mutate into something else. It would be the lightly armed means whereby the crime went on, the smuggling zone in the Border counties was protected, the rule of the army council was to be enforced, the funds for politics and power were to be amassed and the Short Strand and many other enclaves were to be dominated and ruled. It was to be the means whereby opponents and rivals would be intimidated and silenced.
I wish to say a few words about another murder victim, Eamonn Collins. His mutilated body was found a few years ago by the roadside in Newry. His death rivalled that of Robert McCartney in terms of the barbarity and cowardice of the perpetrators. In his case, however, he knew he was a marked man. His crime was to testify before a Dublin jury, to tell the truth and point out that Thomas "Slab" Murphy was chief of staff of the IRA and a member of its army council. His crime was to show that the libel case which was being brought againstThe Sunday Times was a colossal lie and an attempt to punish the media for telling the truth. The jury of Dubliners believed Mr. Collins.
I mention this case because a handful of media commentators still refuses to face up to the truth about the IRA. They apparently do not want to know who is involved. They do not want to see who raided the Northern Bank, how they are laundering the money and what they want to spend it on. I remind them that free speech has its moral duties as well as its legal rights. I also remind them that a terrible price was paid by Eamonn Collins for the right of the Irish people to know the truth about the IRA and its leadership, and for the right of the media to publish the truth. The Provos exacted that price.
I would have thought that any journalist, especially that small minority of journalists who refuse to see the truth, would never forget the fate of Eamonn Collins, or for that matter forget what the moral duty of professional practitioners of free speech which journalists are, demands of them. Like the sisters and partner of Robert McCartney, it demands bravery. That is the issue we have to reflect on tonight, it is simply a matter of bravery. The community across Ireland has to stand up in just the same way as the 300 people who went on the march the other day and confront the threat to our democracy, the rule of law and life itself.
In the short time available I wish to support the motion and make a few observations. In deploring the murder of Robert McCartney by members of the IRA and others, and commending his family's remarkable courage in demanding justice, it is worth remembering there are 2,000 other unresolved murders arising from the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
What makes this murder so significant politically and in terms of its implications for Sinn Féin is not that it cannot be wrapped in the immunity usually conferred by the "struggle" but that it has come at a time when that central question of IRA criminality is now the single obstacle to achieving a final settlement of the conflict as envisaged by the Good Friday Agreement.
As has previously been said in the debate, this was no drunken brawl, it was premeditated slaughter. It was a cover up by those who abused their power, a power which for decades has rendered the IRA immune from criminality and even disapproval in the eyes of its own community. Over the past few months Sinn Féin leaders have found themselves refusing to describe past republican actions as crimes. To concede that label of criminality for IRA activities over 30 years would offend the integrity of what its members perceive to be their struggle against injustice and occupation. In their minds it would be a slur, a diminishing of their version of history, which is noble and patriotic. Those republicans who killed and died for Ireland must from a Sinn Féin perspective be retrospectively protected from the label of common criminality. One man's crime was another man's patriotic struggle for justice.
After years of protracted discussions there is still no shared or agreed view of the cause of the conflict; perhaps there never will be. What we had hoped for in the peace process was for the building of a shared vision for the future and a fresh start. Whatever about putting behind us the crimes of the past, post-Good Friday Agreement there cannot be any acceptance of ongoing criminality.
The peace process was built on the basis of acceptance of the integrity of the other side's quarrel. It was about burying the hatchet and working together to agree a settlement, which would remove the cause of the conflict. It required significant concessions from all of us, the release of prisoners, evacuating treasured constitutional positions, inclusion in democratic politics of former paramilitaries, the demilitarisation of Northern Irish society, reform of policing and judicial systems, admissions of past failures and a plethora of inquiries into the wrongs of the past.
For those Ministers close to the process — there have been Ministers from many parties — it has been an exercise of faith, hope and, unfortunately, serial disappointment. It was a high-risk investment. As David Trimble said, it was a "white-knuckle ride". I reject the suggestion that the Governments turned a blind eye to criminality. The job of Governments in the process was to steer a ship through stormy waters, to progressively build confidence among the parties representing paramilitaries, which would result in an exodus from violence and the embrace of democracy and the rule of law.
Many of us had "dark nights of the soul" about the risks being taken with fundamental democratic principles. We knew on Good Friday that the Agreement was just a start. Sadly since then we have lurched from crisis to crisis but in the round, as Mo Mowlam would say, things are immeasurably better. I do not despair or recriminate that it has taken this long to come to the crunch decision for Sinn Féin on the issue of criminality. It is a critical challenge and opportunity for that party. For a long time we were stuck on the issue of decommissioning of weapons. George Mitchell once said it was the decommissioning of the mindset that mattered. We are at that juncture now.
I do not begrudge or question Sinn Féin's mandate. The whole idea of the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement was that Sinn Féin would embrace politics, that politics would work for its members and that they could legitimately pursue their political aspirations through totally non-violent means. Never for a moment did we imagine that thuggery and criminality would replace the military campaign as amodus operandi.
As one who engaged with Sinn Féin in good faith as a Minister of State in respectful negotiations I urge those in Sinn Féin and the many thousands of people who support them to be worthy of the trust which I and many others placed in them in the past ten years. They should not use weasel words in responding to the McCartney family. They should seize the opportunity to take a new road for the republican movement. Peace with justice has become a Sinn Féin mantra. For too long justice has been a one-way street. Human rights was something it demanded; not something it ever imagined would be expected of it. How else could the barbarity of punishment attacks on young dysfunctional youths be squared with human rights? It is difficult to understand why the wider republican community has given the IRA immunity for those terrible crimes over many years?
The brave McCartney sisters are not only posing compelling and uncomfortable questions for Sinn Féin, they are posing the same questions to their own community. They are asking if they really need protectors who are battering their own people to death when the mood takes them. It is truly a defining moment to see the people of the Short Strand rise up against IRA criminality. Mo Mowlam's dream of the peace process becoming a people's project is just starting to become a reality for the people of the Short Strand and the wider republican community. I hope the Sinn Féin leadership has the courage to listen to and hear the strong messages coming from within its own constituency. Perhaps we have come to a time when Sinn Féin and the rest of us can at least have a shared understanding of what is justice.
I join other speakers in deploring the murder of Robert McCartney. It would be impossible to do otherwise. Any murder is abhorrent, but Robert McCartney's murder was particularly shocking. A murder which apparently arose from a bar room brawl quickly escalated into a cover up operation, startling in both its speed and its scale. This is something which would normally only be undertaken by a structured and trained organisation. It was an automatic reflex by an organisation determined to protect its own. There was no question of even rudimentary justice. The first instinct was to get away with it; for self-survival. Whoever they were, the people who rendered Magennis's bar forensically sterile are guilty of a very serious crime. They should face prosecution for their actions as surely as the person or persons who were guilty of stabbing Robert McCartney and Brendan Devine should face prosecution.
In order for such prosecutions to be successful and in the regrettable absence of physical evidence, witnesses will have to take the stand against these men. I am happy to respond to the motion by adding my voice to those of other public representatives who have encouraged those with knowledge of this crime to give statements to the investigating police so that the justice in the courts sought by the McCartney family can be achieved.
When laws are drafted and enacted in this House or any other parliament in the world, we build in protections to ensure that no one can be convicted without compelling evidence. However, as legislators we are particularly affronted when those protections are abused by the guilty to protect themselves from conviction for their misdeeds. Destroying evidence and intimidating witnesses hits at the very foundation of a criminal justice system. Although the situation seems bleak at present, I hope and believe that justice will be done in the end. The demands of the McCartney family should not and must not be ignored and the will of the people cannot be ignored.
When those accused of the crimes which took place in Magennis's bar come to justice, they will face the consequences of their actions. Are they so far removed from any sense of morality or personal responsibility that they are more content to expend their energies on protecting themselves and yet damage the cause to which they claim absolute allegiance? We deplore the summary justice of paramilitaries. This House does not recognise any "court martial" held by the IRA. The IRA is not qualified or mandated to try anyone. Only the courts can perform that role, operating under the laws enacted by democratically-elected representatives of the people.
The McCartney family has made a simple, dignified and consistent plea for those with information to co-operate with the police. We can only imagine the strain which the events of recent weeks have placed on the family. They have found themselves not only bereaved but suddenly on centre stage as spokeswomen for their community. I hope they are drawing strength from the support they are receiving. It is evident in the House today, as it was last night, that there is almost unanimous support for this motion.
The people of the Short Strand too have found themselves in agreement on the McCartney case, which represents a fundamental moral choice and a key political decision for the party most implicated in it. They have come out publicly in support of the McCartney family, standing in vigil on the streets of their community, wanting justice to be done, appalled that anyone, much less their erstwhile political leaders, should shield the perpetrators from the law. Their comments have prompted Sinn Féin to make some public statements. However, in those statements and in the amendment which they presented to this House on this motion, Sinn Féin does not accept the core issue, which is the need to work with the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
Instead of leading, Sinn Féin has taken the back seat hoping all of this will go away. Much hard work on the ground has gone into the reform of the police service in Northern Ireland. With no help from Sinn Féin, local communities have nominated representatives to district policing partnerships to work with the policing board to deliver a service which can inspire the confidence of all the community. No one is asking Sinn Féin to make a leap of faith on policing, only to co-operate with the fundamental role of the police in bringing the perpetrators of a heinous crime to justice.
We have seen what can happen in a community where public support for policing is obstructed. It allows, and is meant to allow, a situation where paramilitaries are themselves entirely beyond the law. That attitude was the critical factor in the murder of Robert McCartney and its attempted cover-up. That is why it has such implications for society and the peace process as a whole. However, the McCartney family, the people of the Short Strand and the plain people of Ireland will no longer stand for those who set themselves up as an alternative judge, jury and executioner at the expense of justice for an innocent man slaughtered without compunction. I support the motion.
Ba mhaith liom mo chuid ama a roinnt leis na TeachtaíÓ Caoláin, Harkin, Finian McGrath agus Joe Higgins.
This motion is very difficult in the context of having met with the McCartney family, acknowledging and identifying in every way possible with the situation in which they find themselves. The sisters of the late Robert McCartney and his partner, Bridgeen, it must been acknowledged have been an inspiration to us all to uphold justice with clarity, without ambiguity and without being a prisoner of whatever conditioning any of us have picked up along the way. The lesson I have learned from the McCartney family is that Dáil Éireann can do nothing other than recommend that people go to the PSNI. To do anything else would indicate a lack of respect for the laws which people voted for and the institutions of the State here or those in the North, which were copper-fastened by the Good Friday Agreement, and were only to be changed having set that reference point in place.
The reason we are here is to ask why people are not coming forward to give evidence. People are scared and the question of why they are scared must be answered here tonight. There is no doubt that they are scared of the summary killings, beatings, intimidation and the harassment of family members. They are also scared when even former Sinn Féin members such as Martin Cunningham are derided by Sinn Féin members on his council when he called for justice. I am sure people do not need to be reminded of the various atrocities perpetrated by loyalists, republicans or state forces but people are scared.
I was in Belfast at the weekend and found that people cannot accept that Sinn Féin is serious about the policing issue given that the party knows members of the Provisional IRA have gone to the police with their solicitors following car crashes, burglaries and so on. The police have been there and republicans are dealing with the police at one level. Therefore, it is important that it is taken into account. People find it hard to accept that this is anything other than cold-blooded murder when, whatever about the orders given to kill Robert McCartney and attempt to murder Brendan Devine, an order was certainly given to undertake a forensically sophisticated clean-up afterwards. People also find it hard to see this murder as anything other than a calculated attempted to exert control on the community. Why was no ambulance called? Only for the passing police patrol, we would be discussing two murders tonight.
This vicious murder and attempted murder brings into sharp and inescapably clear relief a dual reality in regard to the definition of what a crime is and the constitutional definition of a crime. We must go beyond that. Due to this dual reality, the Dáil is not singing from the same hymn sheet with regard to what justice is and how to achieve it. This day of reckoning was bound to come. Now it is here. I appeal to Sinn Féin, in the interests of everybody, to seize the day and the challenge and recognise this reality. Justice will not be done unless the police is assisted with its inquiry in every way. This will in itself be a catalyst for transformed and fruitful progress towards the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, which is our common goal.
I urge the Government to recognise that we are still in a sensitive political situation. This debate is not the most helpful way of dealing with it. We should be dealing on a one-to-one basis. Opposition parties have been excluded from the process for too long.
I move amendment No. 1:
In the last paragraph, after "police" to insert "or, for those who do not support or trust the PSNI, to bring forward any information they may have to the family, a solicitor or any other authoritative or reputable person or body,"
On my own behalf and on behalf of my fellow Sinn Féin Deputies, I extend deepest sympathy to the McCartney family. The brutal murder of Robert devastated a family and shocked a local community deeply. I met the McCartney family and Robert's partner in Leinster House last week and I salute their courage and 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 actively to assist the family. I wish to put on record some of what Sinn Féin President, Mr. 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.
Given that we wish to see truth and justice for the McCartney family, we should not close any avenue through which information or evidence can be brought to light. Sinn Féin has not sought to close any avenue. People have gone to the PSNI and no doubt others will do so. That is their right and nobody should stand in their way. There are others who do not trust or support the PSNI, not because of what Sinn Féin says but because of their experiences and that of their communities 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 who have said that those with valid reasons for not going to the PSNI should go to a solicitor, the Police Ombudsman or whoever with whom they are comfortable. Mr. 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 did not trust us" would go through third parties.
The PSNI also recognised this reality when it began the re-investigation of the loyalist killing of Seán Brown in Bellaghy, County Derry. It 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 last evening to portray this otherwise merits only contempt. 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 wish to delete a word of it. However, in failing to recognise a reality that even the PSNI concedes, the final paragraph restricts the means by which information may be given to help bring the killers to justice. For this reason, Sinn Féin asked Fine Gael to accept its amendment which does not detract from but adds to the motion before us. Its refusal is most regrettable.
Time does not allow me to respond to the stream of party political invective against Sinn Féin last night and tonight. The refusal of the Fine Gael Party to accept a reasonable proposition, and its contributions and those of other Members of the House, shows what can only be called a cynical exploitation of this serious issue for the narrowest of political motives.
Misinformation has been flung around the 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 when the PSNI itself recognised that there were other ways to bring forward information. The Minister who, like so many others, was blinded by his deep rooted antipathy towards Sinn Féin was obliged to do a complete U-turn today and face reality when he said people could use other avenues as well.
The logic of that U-turn and of all the information before the 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, regrettably, withhold our endorsement of the motion, 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 such as "Sinn Féin isolated" as an outcome of this debate. However, I believe the majority of people are interested in truth and justice for the bereaved and that is what Sinn Féin will continue to pursue.
I am pleased to have the opportunity to make a brief contribution to this discussion. What was different about the murder of Robert McCartney? Why is this crime on everybody's lips? There have been many murders perpetrated by all sides. There have been many victims and the devastation of their families and friends was no less than that of the McCartneys.
Certainly, the fact that the murder occurred directly after the Northern Bank robbery had an impact. The utter viciousness of the crime coupled with the intimidation and bullying of witnesses were critical. However, the courage of Robert McCartney's family, who faced down that intimidation and who were supported by the local community, has brought us to this point tonight. We could have talked ourselves hoarse condemning the murder and there could have been reams of newsprint condemning the awful act but they would not have mattered. What mattered was that friends, neighbours and other decent people from the area supported the family. Ultimately, the community shouted "Stop". It took people power to turn the tide and to seek justice and truth.
I listened to Robert McCartney's aunt on the radio programme "News at One" two weeks ago and was riveted by what she said. She spoke the simple truth without spin. She described life as it is and Robert's death as it was. She forced all of us to confront the horror of the situation. I welcome the statement by Gerry Kelly this afternoon, echoed by Deputy Ó Caoláin this evening, that Sinn Féin is behind people who are prepared to come forward and give evidence about the murder.
It was suggested initially that this could undermine the peace process. I disagree. I believe it will move it forward. Peace is more than the absence of war. It means that communities and individuals are free from intimidation, regardless of where it originates. Robert McCartney's murder requires us to confront that truth. Watching the participants in the peace process over many years, in which many people were involved, I often thought very few women were involved. In terms of conflict resolution, women often have a different perspective, not better or worse, just different. It has taken the women of the McCartney family to make us confront the truth about intimidation and fear in communities. That recognition is a significant step in moving the peace process forward.
I thank the Ceann Comhairle for the opportunity to speak on this important motion. I met the McCartney family last week in Leinster House. I gave them a commitment that I would support them in their efforts to get justice for their brother. That is why in this debate I welcome the opportunity to support them and once again offer my deepest sympathy.
This horrific murder must be dealt with and the perpetrators brought to justice immediately. Regardless of politics, this must be faced. I also ask that the political parties in this House and other places not use the murder of an innocent man to score political points. This debate is about the murder of Robert McCartney and the best way for his family to get justice. I urge those trying to slip in other issues to respect the feelings and sensitivities of the families.
From my experience of working on the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights, particularly on the sub-committee on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1972 to 1974, it is important to always put the victims and their families first, at the top of the agenda. I again urge caution, sensitivity and respect for the family's feelings. Sadly, this is not happening at present.
I support the motion but have some sympathy for the amendment. We support the McCartney family. We must also take on board that sections of the Nationalist population, after 30 years of violence, death, destruction and collusion, have problems with policing. This amendment gives them an opportunity to come forward. Hugh Orde today agreed with that position and I believe that some members of the McCartney family support it. Members should reflect on this as we all want the McCartney family to make progress.
Of course, there is one simple solution to this issue, namely, that the perpetrators come forward and give themselves up. This immediately deals with the issue of intimidation and saves the family protracted grief. I would say the same regarding the Brian Murphy case. The people involved should take responsibility for their actions. There should be no fudge on this issue. Let us also remind ourselves of the words of the great Martin Luther King who said:
Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what was done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship.
That barrier will be removed when the McCartney family get justice.
I deplore all sectarian violence and I call for an end to all sectarian attacks in the North. I deplore the fact that the Oireachtas sub-committee on the independent commission of inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1972 and 1973 did not receive co-operation from the Northern Irish and British authorities. I demand that the suffering of all victims be addressed. I call for the removal of all guns from the island of Ireland. Then we will all win and the nation can move forward.
Clearly, when the monsters who disfigured Brendan Devine and inflicted unspeakable violence on Robert McCartney thought they could escape accountability by cynically organising a forensic cleansing at the crime scene and by intimidating witnesses, they did not reckon on the intervention of six formidable working class women, the McCartney sisters and Bridgeen Hagans. I salute them for their resilience, courage and determination. They have challenged the intimidation of the bullies who became so used to strutting around the Short Strand and Markets area they thought they could literally get away with murder.
The mobilisation of the community demanding justice is a message to the paramilitary organisations, not only on the republican side but also on the loyalist side, that working class communities in the North have had enough of the undemocratic control exercised by these organisations over their communities. It is ironic it is suggested that the McCartney family might be invited to the White House by President Bush, a man who has visited unspeakable violence on others. I warn that justice for Robert McCartney will not be found in the White House or any other big house but on the streets and in the communities of Northern Ireland in the form of the mobilisation of the community that is taking place. In that sense, a rally that may be organised outside the pub where the atrocity took place should draw support from throughout Belfast and Northern Ireland as a whole, the trade union movement and, I hope, activists and working class people from Protestant and Catholic areas.
I may be convinced that Sinn Féin and the IRA are serious about their demands that justice be done when witnesses come forward and tell what they know because this would mean the intimidation has been lifted. I will support the Sinn Féin addendum to the motion so that no one who can assist in bringing these killers to justice has any excuse for not coming forward. However, that addendum or people coming forward in that way will only have effect if those people are prepared to give evidence in court about the atrocity they saw and name those who carried it out. This must be added as a rider to this call that people can come forward without necessarily going to the PSNI.
I wish to share time with Deputies Perry and McManus.
This is a very important debate. It is the second time in recent weeks Fine Gael has devoted its Private Members' time to such an important issue, the national issue, the ideal of peace in our land and, particularly, the ending of violence in our country forever. I listened carefully to the Sinn Féin speaker, Deputy Ó Caoláin. He missed the whole point of the Fine Gael motion, which was summed up when Deputy Kenny urged Sinn Féin to "match their pious announcements with real action and let the tragic death of Robert McCartney be the catalyst for the separation of Sinn Féin from its criminal associates once and for all". It is not for the isolation of Sinn Féin but the IRA that the motion is before the House. This is the real difference between all the parties in this country and Dáil. We want a total end forever to violence. The only way to achieve this is by taking the peaceful path.
Today, I viewed the Sinn Féin website to ascertain the links and connections, seamless or otherwise, between Sinn Féin and the IRA. Perhaps it is a small matter, but for sale for €15 on the Sinn Féin website — not the IRA website — was a T-shirt printed with the phrase "The IRA — the undefeated army" and another IRA T-shirt. I will not go into other issues in regard to the website. It is when those items are no longer for sale on the Sinn Féin website and when there is crystal clarity in regard to where Sinn Féin stands on the issue of violence that there will be total acceptance of its political position.
Sinn Féin goes on about republicanism and claims it is the republican party. The reality is that any true democrat is a true republican because what he or she wants is a true democracy. He or she wants liberty, equality and fraternity, the true ideals of republicanism and the ideals of Wolfe Tone, which sprang from the French Revolution and which are in all our hearts and minds. All the parties in this House exclude violence totally from that equation of republicanism and nationalism, and do so without fear. We speak in the House, stand before the electorate and fight our fight in the political field.
Whatever reasons there might have been in the 1790s for the struggle of the United Irishmen, given the economic and political position between Britain and Ireland as they were, none of these reasons survives. As I said before, in the British Houses of Parliament we have a united policy on Northern Ireland. We have a policy regarding this country and in Downing Street we have a Prime Minister who has no imperialist views or ideas. For many years the British Government has sought to have peace in our land, peace between green and orange, and it has sought to assist that peace. In America we have had a very influential number of recent presidents, in particular President Clinton, and indeed President Bush, who are making every possible effort to bring about peace. They have brought in Sinn Féin and their leaders and have allowed them to raise money in the US. There was no need to raid banks. They were allowed to run a perfectly legitimate operation in another country because the Americans and British want what the Irish want, an end forever to violence. That is the message.
Those of us who went to school and did our bit of Leaving Certificate science learned about titration of chemicals. Historically one had the green, nationalist colour and the orange one. Mixed together, unfortunately up to now the colour that has emerged has been the colour of blood, such as was spilled a month ago in Belfast. We are talking of the blood of thousands of people who have died. What we are trying to do, and what successive governments, oppositions and everyone wants is a re-mixing of those colours with the result being peace, or a white colour. It can be done scientifically and it can be done in the hearts and minds of the people.
This is what the people want. They are entitled to it and must get it. The ambiguity in Sinn Féin, obvious in their website and their words, must end. It may be that because of the grip the IRA has on the people of Belfast or certain parts of it, none of the 70 people who saw the murder could use a mobile phone for fear of dying themselves. An ambulance could not be called for fear that those who called it would also end up on the street with the poor people attacked. If the grip of the IRA is so strong, Sinn Féin must walk away from it. At the end of what they call the struggle, that violent struggle, we can talk business and then walk together into the future Ireland that people want.
The current situation cannot continue. We are now at the final point. The people will put up with this no longer. If the McCartney family cannot get justice for the awful murder perpetrated on their brother because of fear and intimidation, another justice can be meted out. That is the justice of the voice of the people through the ballot boxes, North and South. This must happen. If people are terrorised by the IRA and fearful of it, and none can blame them when we see what has happened, then the greater truth will become known. I do not know if Gerry Adams is going to the White House on St. Patrick's Day but I damn well think the McCartney family should be there because they speak for all of us.
There is no doubt that we want an end to the violence. We support the McCartney family in its struggle. It is very difficult to stand up to fear and intimidation. It is very difficult if one has been a Sinn Féin voter to go out on the street and get 200 or 300 people to say "Yes, we backed you. We want an end to this". It is going to happen because the people will make it happen.
This is the moment for Sinn Féin to grasp. I echo Deputy Kenny's concluding comments. Sinn Féin must grasp peace now, go for it and stand apart from the IRA. We want Sinn Féin in this House. We want it to play its full part in democratic politics but there can no longer be any ambiguity about violence, death, murder and intimidation. There must be an end to it now.
I thank Deputy O'Dowd for sharing time. I am delighted to speak on this important motion. Looking back at the 20th century, when Fine Gael stood for a united Ireland, going back to Arthur Griffith, we have a long history of campaigning for that great ideal.
All of us have been inspired by the courage of Robert McCartney's family, its bravery in standing up to the hoods and rejecting intimidation. That has been a turning point in the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The family has shown a persistent unwillingness to accept double-speak or lame excuses and is committed in its quest for justice. It is hard for us to fathom the family's ability to pursue this objective so relentlessly in light of the immense grief it has suffered. However, the family has secured one objective which thousands have failed to achieve previously. It has shown that the IRA can be shamed into adopting the standards of behaviour accepted in every normal decent society.
It is shameful that it took the IRA nearly a month to respond and that its members and supporters played such an instrumental role initially in destroying evidence and intimidating witnesses. For far too long, the IRA and its political suits have managed to evade, avoid and subvert through the clever use of evasive language and the constant portrayal of their members as victims. What the McCartney murder has shown is that in this instance the real victims of the Troubles in Northern Ireland are the very communities the IRA claims to protect. The savagery and brutality inflicted on Mr. McCartney display a sick and psychopathic mindset. It is hard to see how people could be held in such high esteem in any so-called army of justice when they can so coldly and callously butcher a defenceless man and leave him to die. Even more disturbing has been the way the republican movement in Belfast was able to orchestrate a riot when police sought to investigate the crime and how it expertly disposed of the forensic evidence in the immediate aftermath of the atrocity.
Sinn Féin cannot use the words freedom, truth and justice as long as the killers of Robert McCartney remain at large. Any organisation which objects to or frustrates the investigation of this crime by the police and the prosecution of the wrongdoers by the courts can play no part in the normal political processes. Such organisations should be shunned and excluded until they clearly demonstrate an understanding of the basic requirement of transparent accountability for such wrongdoing.
What has also been inspirational about the McCartney women is that they have refused to accept spin or prevarication. They have also laid out their objectives very clearly and will not rest until they have been achieved. This is one of the few occasions where I have seen the slick Sinn Féin PR machine cough and splutter. It is also a rare event to see the IRA humbled and humiliated to the extent that it had to issue two statements and go through the charade of expelling three volunteers.
The McCartney killing must bring home to us that it is time to end all the charades including the one that the IRA is the legitimate army or that it deserves to be recognised as having the various organisational elements associated with the Irish Army in this State. There is no place for the IRA or its structures in modern Ireland and the sooner it closes camp and removes the cloud of shame that must hang over some of its elected members in this House, the better.
The impact on the southern six counties has been huge. There has been a considerable impact on the potential for economic development across the Border and the opportunities which peace would bring to the whole island, particularly to the six Border counties. It is regrettable that when the opportunity for peace is there, the level of criminality which exists across the Border has such an impact on so many institutions of the State. This is a watershed. Sinn Féin must stand back from the criminality of the IRA and embrace the democratic process. We are going to move on and we cannot have two armies in the State. The McCartney sisters have put it up to Sinn Féin-IRA that people will no longer tolerate the situation. What was covered up was entirely regrettable and would not have been revealed but for the sheer determination of the McCartney sisters to seek justice. There is now no place for the IRA. That has impacted on the economic development of Sligo and all the Border counties. Fine Gael has had a long history campaigning for a united Ireland and it is regrettable that thousands of people lost their lives for no gain. Punishment beatings, the recent bank robbery and racketeering have diminished Ireland's reputation abroad but I hope prosecutions will follow. The cover up that took place in Belfast with the removal of forensic evidence is regrettable but I am confident witnesses will come forward and the people responsible will be brought to justice and serve their time. This is an important motion and it is important that Sinn Féin-IRA should get the message. We have a solid mandate to debate this issue, as have the people of Ireland. It is time Sinn Féin-IRA listened and took heed.
The killing of Robert McCartney has left a family without a father, a son and a brother and this terrible loss must be acknowledged. He was an innocent man having a drink with his friend, Brendan Devine, and he should have been able to go home to his family when the pub closed. Instead, he was systematically stabbed, cut open like a gutted fish, brutally kicked in the head and left to die. This barbaric act was carried out by known members of the provisional movement who proceeded to lock the doors of the pub, instruct those inside not to call an ambulance and set about removing every piece of evidence to cover up their bloody trail as Robert McCartney lay dying in an alleyway.
If this killing had been carried out by a loyalist gang, Sinn Féin spokespeople would have been first to demand justice but the butchers of the Short Strand belong to their organisation and Sinn Féin and the IRA tried to cover up the truth by pretending this was nothing more than a drunken brawl. They denied involvement until the pressure built to such a point that denial was fruitless.
The provisional movement has been forced to give ground for weeks in the face of the dignified grief and implacable courage of Robert McCartney's sisters — Paula, Gemma, Catherine, Donna, Clare — and his partner, Bridgeen. I pay tribute to these ordinary women who have become extraordinary out of their tragedy. They inspire in all of us hope for the future of Northern Ireland. Their bravery has triumphed over those whom they rightly describe as "psychopaths with power". Justice has not been delivered to them yet but there is an imperative about the righteousness of their cause.
They will not give up their quest for justice and they are not alone. The community in the Short Strand is standing with them both in their sorrow and in their struggle for human rights. Last night the democratically elected members of Belfast City Council stood with them and tonight we, the democratic community of Dáil Éireann, also stand with them.
The provisional movement has for so long held sway in communities such as the Short Strand but it is under pressure. Following all the punishment beatings, intimidation, exiling, extortion and other criminality, the claim of being the protector of this community, which the IRA has made for years, has finally been exposed for what it is, a lie. There is no justification for the ongoing existence of the IRA and no case whatsoever for an armed conspiracy that shelters within its ranks the murderers of Robert McCartney. No matter what claims its members make, they are not the defenders of nationalist communities.
The record shows that the IRA has killed more people than the combined forces of the UDA, UFF, UVF, RUC and the British Army. It is estimated that more than 400 Catholics died at the hands of the IRA. The recent revelations by Richard O'Rawe about the H-Block hunger strike and the role of the army council show that when it comes to its own members, the IRA has acted with breathtaking callousness. Men died on hunger strike, according to O'Rawe, because Gerry Adams, on behalf of the army council, prevented them from accepting a deal offered by the British Government. History may judge that revelation in the future but history is being made by the McCartney family, who have challenged all of us to confront the role, purpose and methods of the provisional movement. There is an obligation on us to support them in every way we can until the killers of their brother are brought to justice.
People are not only fearful about going to the PSNI. When Robert McCartney and his friend were attacked in Magennis's bar on 30 January and the subsequent events took place, fear of the thugs, not the PSNI, stopped people from calling an ambulance. Until that fear is confronted, as it has been by the McCartney family, it will be extremely difficult to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.
This is a test of the provisional movement and I urge its members to live up to the test. Others have done it previously. Most parties in this Parliament have been associated with violence in the past. This is the time for Sinn Féin to move forward. There are decent members in Sinn Féin who are deeply disturbed by what has happened and that it has not been resolved. There is still fear of retaliation, intimidation and thuggery among the community in the Short Strand, not fear of the PSNI. This is understandable when one considers what has happened not only in Belfast but in other parts of Northern Ireland.
In response to the motion, the House has rightly declared its dismay and outrage at the appalling events of 30 January last, which culminated in two men being left to bleed unattended on the streets of Belfast, one fatally. The shock initially felt by many people at the cold blooded nature of such an horrific crime has turned to anger at the audacity of those responsible, as they attempted to cover up and deny their actions by intimidating witnesses, threatening their own community and obstructing the police.
As the McCartney family has made clear to everyone on this island, its members and the partner of Robert McCartney want justice to prevail, as defined by any citizen of the new shared island, established by the Good Friday Agreement — justice in the courts on this island. They want those directly responsible for Robert McCartney's death, as well as those responsible for the clean-up operation that followed, to face police investigation, prosecution in court and the appropriate custodial sentence for their appalling crime.
The people of the Short Strand and the Markets have responded to the McCartneys' call for justice in a manner befitting the memory of Robert because they knew without question that he was undeserving of such a heinous attack. They also knew that the perpetrators of this criminal act were not deserving of the usual protection offered to those who present themselves as volunteers of the IRA. The character of these men was well known to the local community, despite the protection they continued to enjoy through their membership of that organisation. The courage, determination, dignity and honesty of the McCartneys have stirred in us all a passionate desire to see their wishes fulfilled and the murderers indicted and convicted.
The witnesses and evidence necessary for this to happen are readily available. There were reportedly 72 witnesses to this crime, 50 of whom were in the bar at the time. Some, if not many are in a position to offer key evidence against the perpetrators. Some may have been in a position to see what happened outside the premises in question, where the fatal wounds were inflicted. Under different circumstances, a witness to such blatant disregard for human life would have immediately called the authorities and attempted to assist the badly injured men. Co-operation with the police is an automatic response in a normal society.
However, life for these witnesses is different because they live under the shadow of paramilitaries, who claim status by association with the IRA and enforce that status through menace and violence. Being witness to such a bloody attack, they are under no illusions about what the perpetrators are capable of and would resort to once again to protect their selfish interests. Witnesses were warned that they would act contrary not just to the perpetrators but to the organisation to which they claimed allegiance, the IRA. In such circumstances, only the most direct and convincing statement and actions by Sinn Féin leaders and the IRA could redress the balance and encourage those witnesses to come forward and co-operate with the police.
As the Minister for Foreign Affairs, my colleague, Deputy Dermot Ahern, stated last night and repeated today, the litmus test for Sinn Féin and the Provisional movement now is in bringing forth the evidence which will mean that those responsible face the full force of the law. Whether that is through the IRA ordering those responsible to turn themselves in or through the IRA unconditionally and in a convincing manner lifting the threats imposed on witnesses to the murder itself, or any other such action, is secondary to the actual result that it produces.
Evidence that will stand up in court is the key to unmasking these supposed republicans, and it must be allowed to emerge in a manner conducive to the rule of law and justice for the family. The proposal to amend this motion by Sinn Féin was rejected by this House, as it was in similar circumstances last night by Belfast City Council. Sinn Féin can point the finger at the PSNI, the courts, the public prosecution service and any other body if it feels that it may help muddy the waters further around this matter, but it will not work. They can direct people to other sources of authority, such as solicitors, but unless the information is eventually imparted to the police and courts, it will not help the McCartney family find justice.
As the McCartney family said yesterday, people can go to the Police Ombudsman, a solicitor, or whomever they are comfortable with so long as they are prepared to stand up and give their information in court. As the Minister for Foreign Affairs made clear last night, the Government is not playing politics with policing, seeking somehow to use this case to compromise the Sinn Féin position on the issue. It will be apparent to many that it is Sinn Féin that is playing politics with policing in its persistent attempts to avoid the co-operation with the police necessary to bring the killers to justice.
The challenge facing the leaders of the republican movement is crystal clear. As the Minister pointed out, the double-speak of Sinn Féin will be tolerated no more. From misleading comments on knife culture to the insidious killing or manslaughter reference by Gerry Adams, Sinn Féin's selfishness has been matched only by its insensitivity. Convincing and effective action on its behalf and on behalf of the Provisional movement is urgently required to bring these killers before the courts. The McCartney family, and the people of Ireland, demand no less.
Until justice is done, it will be impossible for Robert McCartney's family, partner and children and their friends to mourn his sad passing fully or properly. Let us do all we can to allow them the opportunity to grieve for the terrible loss that they have suffered and give them the justice that they so obviously need to move on. I reiterate the Government's commitment to that family that the case will stay on the agenda until it is fully resolved to their satisfaction and that of the people of Ireland, North and South. I commend the motion to the House.
We in Fine Gael regret that Sinn Féin, despite many public announcements about its new attitude to criminality recently, has refused to join the other democratic parties in this House in this motion of solidarity with the McCartney family. Sinn Féin has again opted to isolate and exclude itself. As I see it, it is but a further expression of the cynical approach evidenced by Sinn Féin to the murder from the beginning.
It is utterly dishonest to suggest that there is any comparison between the investigation into the McCartney murder and that into the killing of Seán Brown. It is also dishonest of Gerry Adams to speak of being willing to go to court to help represent those personally involved. He knows full well that the criminal justice system does not operate like that. It is dishonest of Deputy Ó Caoláin to quote Hugh Orde as saying that people can go to third parties. Of course, he left out the vital words "in the first instance". The Deputy saw no point in quoting that in full. That is what we have been getting from Sinn Féin regarding this murder from the beginning.
Everyone in Sinn Féin, this House and the country knows that the McCartney family is entitled to justice, and if they are to get it, witnesses must come forward to make full statements to the investigating authorities and be prepared to give evidence in court. The authority established by law is the PSNI, the body that can investigate who did what, who saw what, who lifted the video recording from the CCTV camera, who conducted the clean-up, who organised it and who participated. Those are the issues that any police authority in any country in the world deals with when there is a murder, especially a brutal one of this sort. It is not acceptable for Sinn Féin to come here tonight with pious platitudes about its support for the McCartney family without being prepared to get behind this motion, which is supported by every democratic party in this House. That exposes it, and one questions its approach to this entire affair.
Support the amendment.
I remind Sinn Féin that key questions were posed during this debate to which no answers have been provided. Why did the former Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Belfast attack the SDLP's Alastair McDonnell for saying that IRA men were responsible for the murder? Why did Alex Maskey try to dismiss the murder as "knife culture"? Why did he rush to condemn police searches — the PSNI doing its job, as it does in any democratic state — of suspects' houses? Why were there organised riots to disrupt the police searches? Why did the IRA and Sinn Féin tell people on the ground not to go to the PSNI? Why did Gerry Adams wait for two weeks until after the family had spoken out before he found anything to say about the murder? Why have all 12 of those now commonly understood to have been responsible for or involved in this murder not been expelled from the IRA? Why were three selected?
I will return to the 12 accomplices later. However, at this stage, I would like to focus on the issue that is causing Sinn Féin such a problem but is the main reason that Fine Gael wanted to have this issue discussed by the House. We want it to support the McCartney family fully, unequivocally and totally, and that is why we have tabled this motion. Let us be in no doubt about it, the McCartney family has done a great service to our nation, not just because of their courage in facing down the Provisional mafia — that goes without question and they have been complimented by everyone on that — but the real service that they have rendered to the Irish people is that they have ripped away the hypocrisy, the lies, the subterfuge and falseness of the Provisional movement. They have given courage to countless others to stand up to its thuggery and criminality, and that is what causes it the real problem. They did this by exposing the pseudo-patriotism, the selfish criminality and the cruel intimidation of the greatest band of thugs ever seen in Ireland.
Essentially what we see now is the relevance of the stand taken by the McCartney sisters. We are witnessing a turning point in our nation's affairs, and the catalyst for that sea change has been that brave group of women, whom most of us honour tonight. I believe that they are going to the United States, and I wish them God-speed. I hope that they will be recognised in the White House on St. Patrick's Day; they are absolutely entitled to that. I am proud to have them there representing all that is decent in the Irish nation. It is important to look back on how this has been handled by the provisional movement in its military and political wings.
A major comparison is emerging between the double-speak of the provisional movement and the truth as spoken by the McCartney family. We all know the provisional leaders whose spokesmen are past masters of double-speak. They could give university lectures on equivocation and double-talk but all that double-talk has been seen for what it is before the simple truth spoken by the McCartney sisters. It reminds me of the line: "Truth is great, it shall prevail; when all is done, the lie shall rot". That is what is happening before our very eyes, and is it not marvellous to see it.
It is clear at this stage that the brutal murder of Robert McCartney brings Sinn Féin and the IRA to a crossroads. It also highlights the point made by many speakers during this debate that Sinn Féin has an option. It can use this tragedy to break its links with a military wing and with criminality once and for all because all of us have to face the facts as they are tonight, more than a month after this murder. The killers are still walking the streets of Belfast. It is clear this was a brutal crime carried out by well-known members of the IRA who are responsible for hiding behind smoky mirrors. The IRA expelled three of its members, allegedly as a token of its disgust at republican ideals being betrayed, but there were 12 accomplices. What about the other nine? No answers have been given on that.
When they were talking about their disgust at the brutal murder of Robert McCartney and the expulsion of three members of the IRA as a consequence, did they give any thought to expelling the killers of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe, who was gunned down in cold blood? Did that thought ever occur to them? In so far as they would take any notice of any comments on that, might I suggest to them that they could at this stage give consideration to that?
What is now clear from all the evidence in the Short Strand is that the self-proclaimed protectors of the people have turned out to be the predators of the people. Essentially, the guard dogs have turned into wolves. What is also clear is that in confronting this, the McCartney family has provided a formula for the right kind of response to fight these predators. They had the courage to do it and they have spoken up with simple truth and before that simple truth the double-talk falls. It reminds me of the line: "Beauty is truth, truth is beauty. That is all I know on earth and all I need to know". That is the simple point that has been demonstrated time and again in the past four or five weeks by the McCartney family.
What is also clear is that if this matter is to be brought to an end, these killers must be brought to justice and to achieve that Hugh Orde and the Police Service of Northern Ireland will need hard evidence that will stand up in court. The intimidation of witnesses to date has meant that those who want to give evidence, in so far as they do, have received death threats making them stay quiet. The provisional movement has stooped to absolute thuggery warning people not to go to the PSNI because it was IRA business but the IRA had not bargained on the brave stand taken by the McCartney sisters. People are tired of the sham of these IRA pseudo-patriots prancing around like local warlords in the Short Strand and elsewhere.
What has also emerged recently is evidence of a complex web of IRA criminality uncovered by the law enforcement authorities in this jurisdiction. That makes it clear that the provisional movement is addicted to criminality. There is the evidence of the Northern Bank raid and otherwise in this regard. The Garda investigation into the money laundering operation was so thorough one must wonder at the wisdom of the Government's willingness to ignore such activities in the pursuit of a deal last December. It is clear that the issue of an IRA commitment to ending criminal activity was only introduced into the equation after the talks had broken down, but I am not making any political point on that.
My real concern is that the huge proceeds of this criminality is to be used, and is being used, to corrupt our democratic process. It is vitally important that all political parties here operate under the same rules and fund-raising constraints. All IRA criminality must be permanently ended if Sinn Féin is to be accepted as a fully democratic party. Sinn Féin must use its influence in this regard and in so far as it is unable to deal with any members of the provisional movement and get them to accept that approach, those people must be expelled.
I have made it clear to those in Sinn Féin that I want them fully involved in the democratic process here. I suppose in the coming days we will be bombarded with posters of Sinn Féin and Gerry Adams celebrating Sinn Féin 100. One would think, particularly in the light of recent events, that the founder of the original genuine Sinn Féin, Arthur Griffith, would turn in his grave at being associated with this 1969 breakaway group now calling itself Sinn Féin. In the light of the recent evidence of criminality and the enormous amount raised by the provisional movement over the past 15 years, now totalling €200 million——
How dare Deputy O'Keeffe dance his anti-Sinn Féin jig on the grave of an innocent man. Shame on him.
——a more appropriate logo for Sinn Féin would be Sinn Féin €200 million because that is the amount of money the Provisionals are estimated to have taken out of this country.
We have learnt since the arrest in connection with the Northern Bank robbery the prevalence of the underworld of IRA activities here. There is need for a full investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau into the criminal activities of the provisional movement. I want to know now the number of public houses and hotels throughout this country that were purchased with moneys from Provisional IRA racketeering, laundered and invested in business here.
There are questions to be answered by everybody regarding this current crisis. There are questions to be answered by the provisional movement — I have touched on some of them — but they do not like them being asked. That is obvious from the recent interruption, and they will not answer those questions they do not choose to answer. That is also clear from this debate because Sinn Féin has not answered any of the hard questions——
We have answered everything.
——in regard to this murder.
The problem is the Deputy does not want to listen.
I will not be silenced, either inside or outside this House, by Sinn Féin or the IRA.
We have had a real opportunity through this debate to commend the courage, consistency and honesty of the McCartney family. In regard to the Robert McCartney case the Fine Gael message is simple. We want Sinn Féin to actively encourage those who witnessed this appalling act to give statements to the investigating police. That is the only effective way of ensuring that prosecutions can be pursued. Sinn Féin does not have to look too far to find the perpetrators of this crime. Most of them are republican activists. In dealing with Sinn Féin-IRA, it is also clear that while the scales have been removed from our eyes in recent times regarding the criminality of the provisional movement, we must understand, in terms of Sinn Féin, that we are dealing with a Marxist-Leninist organisation that has no commitment to the institutions of this State and which has given evidence over time of a dogged determination to overthrow the institutions of this State by one means or another.
Recent days have shown what can be achieved when pressure is brought to bear on the IRA and the provisional movement. That pressure has been mounted because of the truth, sincerity, honesty and courage of the McCartney sisters. It must be maintained and all of us who are genuine democrats must continue to support the sisters' campaign for truth, honesty and justice to ensure that those who committed this brutal murder are brought to trial and put in jail. The McCartneys deserve no less from the people of Ireland.
Will the Deputies claiming a division please rise?
Deputies Crowe, Ferris, Gregory, Morgan, Ó Caoláin, Ó Snodaigh and Joe Higgins rose.
As fewer than ten Deputies have risen I declare the amendment lost. In accordance with Standing Order 68 the names of the Deputies dissenting will be recorded in the Journal of the Proceedings of the Dáil.