24 June 2004 Edition
British Government under pressure over Cory
As the families of Rosemary Nelson, Robert Hamill and Billy Wright are accusing the British Government of stalling over the establishment of public inquiries into the three killings, it has emerged that US Democratic Presidential hopeful John Kerry has signed a letter calling on the British to establish an inquiry into the killing of solicitor Pat Finucane.
On Monday 21 June, representatives of the families of assassinated solicitor Rosemary Nelson and Portadown nationalist Robert Hamill, along with LVF leader Billy Wright's family, accused the British Government of reneging on a commitment to consult with them in the establishment of the public inquiries into the killings, as recommended by Canadian judge Peter Cory.
According to Rosemary Nelson's brother, Eunan Magee, the families have heard nothing from the NIO and are now fearful that the British are trying to exclude them.
"We were told the inquiries would be up and running by early autumn and that we would be properly consulted", said Magee. "Since April, we have heard little or nothing from the British Government and have no idea what is going on. The NIO has told us nothing."
Meanwhile, American political pressure on the British Government to order a full judicial inquiry into the killing of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane intensified after seven high profile US politicians warned British prime minister Tony Blair that the continued delay in holding the inquiry would jeopardise progress on new policing arrangements.
Among the signatories was Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.
In his report on collusion between the British state and loyalist paramilitaries, Canadian judge Peter Cory recommended a public inquiry.
However, the NIO has delayed establishing an inquiry until after the trial of Ken Barrett, who is charged in connection with the killing of Finucane.
In their letter to Blair, the US politicians said it was difficult to accept fear of prejudice to prosecutions as a reason for delay. It states:
"We share the continuing concern of families that justice has already been delayed for far too long in these cases. It is also of grave concern that your government's handling of this matter is jeopardising much of the progress made to date in achieving a new beginning to policing in the North of Ireland".
The letter was aslo signed by Senators Ted Kennedy, Chris Todd, Charles E Schumer, Frank Lautenberg, Patrick J Leahy and Jon S Corzine.