A leading republican has been remanded in custody after being charged with offences in relation to the murder of Robert McCartney in 2005.

Padraic Wilson, 53, was the leader of IRA prisoners in the Maze Prison in the late 1990s.

He appeared at Belfast Magistrates’ Court charged with IRA membership and addressing a meeting to encourage support for the IRA.

Mr McCartney, 33, was stabbed to death outside Magennis’s bar in Belfast.

His murder had major repercussions for Sinn Féin which, at the time, was involved in delicate political negotiations aimed at securing its support for the police.

Within hours of Mr McCartney’s death, it was claimed that IRA members had been involved after a fight – a claim rejected by Sinn Féin.

Mr McCartney’s family accused republicans of covering up what happened, and threatening witnesses. His sisters accused Sinn Féin and the IRA of obstructing efforts to bring their brother’s killers to justice.

They mounted a high-profile campaign that took them from the streets of the working class nationalist Short Strand area of Belfast to the White House, and even to Sinn Féin’s ard fheis in Dublin.

The IRA expelled three members over the murder and Sinn Féin subsequently suspended seven of its members.

In 2008, Terence Davison, 51, was acquitted of Mr McCartney’s murder and two other men were cleared of charges connected to the killing.

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