Category: Archive

Irish government urges public probe into Hamill’s death

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — The Irish government is urging Britain to hold a public inquiry into the death of Robert Hamill, the Catholic who was kicked to death in Portadown in April 1997 while police officers allegedly looked on and did nothing, official sources in Dublin said.

The move follows renewed lobbying by relatives and friends of Hamill angered by the Sept. 30 decision of the North Ireland’s director of public prosecutions not to charge any of the RUC officers involved.

The matter will be raised by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern when he and British Prime Minister Tony Blair hold bilateral talks on the fringes of the EU heads of government summit in Tampere, Finland, this week.

Donegal TD Cecilia Keaveney raised the matter of the need for a full independent inquiry into Hamill’s murder with Ireland’s foreign affairs minister David Andrews in a Dail question.

In his written reply, Andrews said he was awaiting an urgent report he had sought from the British authorities.

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Andrews, who has met Hamill’s family, said his department — in particular through the Anglo-Irish Secretariat in Belfast — has been closely monitoring developments in the case and have raised it on a number of occasions with Britain.

Following the decision not to prosecute any RUC officers the "widespread and deep concern about this case, which is fully shared by the government," was conveyed to the British authorities.

Six people were charged in 1997 following Hamill’s death but only one was convicted in March 1999 of causing an affray on the night in question, but not of murder.

"The British authorities have said that the RUC investigation if continuing in an effort to bring those responsible for the murder to justice, that the file on the case remains open, and that any new evidence arising would be acted upon," Andrews said in his reply.

While no police officers were to be charged, the minister said that an internal RUC disciplinary action against them is now being considered.

Since the killing of Hamill family’s solicitor, Rosemary Nelson, in a car bomb outside her home last March, the government had "impressed" on the British that the investigation into her death "must be — and be seen to be — thorough, transparent and independent."

"The government is keenly aware of the concerns which have been voiced in the nationalist community and on the part of human rights groups, both in Ireland and internationally, about the role of the RUC in that investigation," Andrews said.

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