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23 March 2000 Edition

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Threats against solicitor not taken seriously

By Deirdre Feehan

A Belfast solicitor who took on the work of Rosemary Nelson representing the Garvaghy Road residents has been refused personal protection by the RUC.

Pádraigín Drinan has vowed to continue her work despite a catalogue of attacks and bomb threats spanning ten years. Drinan said her application for personal protection was turned down six weeks ago after a six-month wait. She said she had reported a number of incidents to the RUC, which include an arson attack on her home, a bomb threat from the UDA, and a booby-trap incendiary device placed under her car. She also believes her personal details, including a photograph, have fallen into the hands of loyalists.

``I have been refused personal protection by the chief constable, because he was not aware of any threats to my life,'' she said. ``It appears there is a difference between a threat and when the attack is actually carried out. In my case, on each occasion, there was no threat. It just happened.''

Drinan has contacted both the British and Irish governments detailing the list of incidents, but as yet has had no feedback.

``The RUC is well aware of the threats. They seem to be doing the same to me as what they did to Rosemary.''

Despite fears for her life, Drinan said: ``I will continue to do the work that Rosemary did and I hope that if anything happens to me someone else will come along''.

Speaking in the week of the first anniversary of the murder of Rosemary Nelson and in light of these new revelations, the Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, Professor Brice Dickson said: ``It is important that individual lawyers and human rights defenders know that they are not alone. They need to be assured that the work they do is valued by everyone in society and that they have the protection of the state and the support of international human rights community.

``The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has followed the investigation into Mrs Nelson's death closely and is conscious of the pressing need to resolve the outstanding issues of concern. It appears likely at this stage that only an independent inquiry will uncover the evidence which will reveal the truth about Rosemary Nelson's murder.''
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