Family being exploited for political gain, warns Adams

The Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has insisted that the family of murdered Belfast man, Robert McCartney, is being exploited for political gain.

The Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has insisted that the family of murdered Belfast man, Robert McCartney, is being exploited for political gain.

In Washington for the traditional St Patrick's Day celebrations, Mr Adams said he supported the family's campaign for justicebut expressed his concern that the growing outrage over the 30 Januarykilling was being manipulated by those with an agenda.

"Let there be no doubt that factions of the media, as well as political opponents of Sinn Fein, have very opportunistically exploited this man's killing," he told reporters.

Mr Adams said he had gone as far as he could to get the killers caught - even giving names to the police ombudsman himself - but warned that exploitation of the case should not pull the focus away from justice.

"I couldn't pursue justice for victims of British brutality or those killed working for the British system if I wasn't just as resolute in defending the rights of this family," he said.

The West Belfast MP expressed amazement about the way in which the police investigation was being conducted.

"I have asked why there has been no identity parade, why, when a key witness came forward on Monday, he was told there was nobody there to interview him, and why another key suspect was told the same thing," he said. "I can't imagine another situation where, if there was a high-profile murder like this one, a chief suspect would come forward and be told to come back another day."

Mr Adams, speaking after meeting the American envoy to Northern Ireland, Mitchell Reiss, in Washington, said he believed Senator Ted Kennedy had been "ill-advised" in cancelling their meeting.

He reiterated his disappointment at being barred from the traditional St Patrick's Day celebration at the White House but said he did not believe it represented a step back for the peace process.

Mr Adams insisted Sinn Fein was very clear that it had no intention of living in an Ireland in which there were armed groups. "The Ireland we want to see is one which is totally demilitarised and we will succeed in achieving the conditions in which the IRA will cease to be," he said.

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