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26 August 2004 Edition

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Collusion victim's daughter invited to meet Clintons

BY JOANNE CORCORAN

THE girl who touched the hearts of the world in 1995 with poignant words about her father Patrick Hamill, who was killed as a result of collusion, has been invited once again to meet with former US President Bill Clinton. Catherine Hamill was just eight years of age when she read out the welcoming message for Bill and Hillary Clinton at Mackies factory in November 1995.

"My first Daddy died in the Troubles. It was the saddest day of my life. I still think of him," Catherine told the crowds who had gathered to see the US President on his first visit to the North.

Her family were invited to the White House in Washington by the Clintons the following Christmas.

On Tuesday, Catherine received an invitation from the US Consulate to meet with the Clintons while they are staying in Belfast.

The family will be bringing a letter from An Fhírínne, the campaign for truth about collusion between British state agencies and unionist death squads, with them to the meeting, due to take place on Thursday.

The letter asks the Clintons, as supporters of the Peace Process, to use their influence to help make collusion a priority at the talks in September.

"Hundreds of people were killed and many more injured and maimed in a vicious campaign of state-sponsored murder. Patrick Hamill was one of the many victims," the letter reads.

"As relatives of those killed, An Fhírínne is seeking the truth about collusion. We believe the British Government must acknowledge its involvement in collusion and dismantle the structures and agencies which operated this policy. As a first step we must see an inquiry into the killing of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane and if this inquiry is to uncover the truth there must be full co-operation with the inquiry on the part of the British Government, its agencies and departments.

"The murder of citizens by the state is the most fundamental breach of human rights imaginable. This unhealed wound must be addressed in the upcoming negotiations.

"As friends of Ireland and the Irish Peace Process, we appeal to you to use any influence you have to ensure this happens."

Brian Nelson connection

Hamill was just 29-years-old when he died in 1987, leaving behind his wife Laura and two young children, Kelly (2) and Catherine, then just 11 months. UDA gunmen burst into his home at Forfar Street off the Springfield Road, West Belfast and shot him at close range in the chest. As Kelly screamed for her daddy, the gunmen shot Patrick in the head.

British Army/UDA double agent Brian Nelson was involved in the planning and execution of the murder. The RUC special Branch, MI5, the Force Research Unit (FRU) and the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), answerable to Downing Street, were all aware of the assassination plans.

In December 1999, a book revealed details of how Hamill's murder was planned. The book is named after Brian Nelson's code number, 10:33, and claims the Hamill murder was sanctioned at the highest political level in London, although it has been proved, and even stated by the RUC, that he had no political or connections or connections with any armed group. The book revealed that the UDA was given Hamill's photograph by the British Army.

This case was one of those investigated by John Stevens, whose still unpublished report found that there had been institutionalised collusion in the Six Counties.

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