IRA shooting offer sparks outrage
IRA angers its own community by killing a popular Catholic man in Belfast.
U.S.: IRA must disband now
IRA 'offers to shoot killers'
Sinn Fein suspends 7 over killing
LONDON, England (CNN) -- A man has been arrested in Northern Ireland the day after the outlawed IRA sparked outrage by announcing it had offered to shoot four people involved in the murder of a Belfast Catholic man.
The man presented himself at a police station on Wednesday, police said, giving no further details.
The death of Robert McCartney on January 30 has cast a shadow over the Northern Ireland peace process, with politicians saying the IRA's political ally Sinn Fein is unfit for government until the paramilitary group disarms and disbands.
CNN European Political Editor Robin Oakley said the shooting and the IRA's unprecedented public offer had horrified the political community.
The British and Irish prime ministers, Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern, both denounced the IRA's offer as bizarre.
"The IRA statement yesterday frankly defies any description. It was an extraordinary thing to say," Blair told the House of Commons in London.
Oakley added that one Labour MP known for his sympathy for the Irish republican movement condemned the IRA, saying there was no room for kangaroo courts in the UK.
Ahern said: "It was an extraordinary statement and a shock to the system. Sometimes you hear these things and it's hearsay, but then you actually see it in a written form.
"We all want to see justice to be done but their (IRA) response to that was to eliminate three or four people. It's horrific."
The outrage over the offer quickly spread across the Atlantic. "It's time for the IRA to go out of business," U.S. special envoy Mitchell Reiss said Wednesday. (Full story)
The U.S. demand is yet another blow to Sinn Fein, the largest nationalist political party in Northern Ireland.
Reiss told BBC radio: "It's time for Sinn Fein to be able to say explicitly, without ambiguity, without ambivalence, that criminality will not be tolerated.
"You can't sign up for the rule of law a la carte."
The Irish Republican Army, which is supposed to be observing a 1997 cease-fire, has faced weeks of embarrassment over its members' alleged involvement in the killing, intimidation of witnesses and destruction of evidence.
McCartney, a 33-year-old forklift truck driver, was beaten and stabbed to death in a bar fight. He lived in a working-class Catholic district considered an IRA heartland.
Nobody has been charged with the murder despite the attack taking place at a crowded pub in Belfast and allegedly involving well-known local IRA figures.
The IRA initially denied any involvement in the killing. On Tuesday, though, it said held a meeting with McCartney's sisters and fiancee, during which it "stated in clear terms that the IRA was prepared to shoot the people directly involved."
The victim's family rejected the offer, it added.
The group did not spell out whether it intended to kill or wound the suspects, but Northern Ireland police chief Hugh Orde said he had no doubt the offer was to assassinate them.
The killing of McCartney came weeks after the IRA was blamed for a £26.5 million ($50 million) bank raid in central Belfast. Nobody has been charged in connection with the robbery, the largest ever to take place in Britain.
London and Dublin say there can be no progress on restoring Northern Ireland's regional government -- set up under the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement to share power between divided Protestants and Catholics -- until the issue of IRA criminality is resolved.
Home rule was suspended in 2002 when unionists, who support ties to Britain, said they would no longer sit in government with Sinn Fein until the IRA got rid of the weapons which sustained its three-decade campaign against British rule.
On Wednesday, hardline Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley told Blair: "Take it from me that your condemnation and further exhortation to the leaders of IRA/Sinn Fein is useless in the present drastic and tragic circumstances of Northern Ireland. When are you going to take action?"