AP front 1 - 2022

14 May 1998 Edition

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Justice demanded for Robert Hamill

Up to 100 people representing community groups, human rights groups and political parties held a vigil outside Belfast City Hall on Friday 8 May, the first anniversary of the Portadown man's death at the hands of loyalists. Robert had been attacked and lay in a coma for 12 days before he died in Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital.

That evening at approximately 8pm the dead man's family led a crowd of several hundred to a vigil in Portadown town centre.

The family, including Robert's mother and father, walked to the spot where Robert was attacked last April and left a wreath in tribute.

The intensity of the hatred that Portadown loyalists have for Catholics is such that wreaths left to mark Robert's death, his month's mind last year and his birthday were ripped down. The family padlocked their wreath to the lamppost.

Speaking to An Phoblacht Diane Hamill welcomed the large turnout and expressed the family's delight that so many people cared enough to turn up. She also complained at the large RUC presence during the Portadown vigil saying that ``the RUC assured me there would only be a small number of jeeps present''. There were in fact over one dozen jeeps in the vicinity of the vigil''.

SFY say Disband the RUC

To mark the first anniversary of the brutal murder of Portadown nationalist Robert Hamill, who was kicked and beaten to death by a loyalist mob in full view of the RUC, Sinn Féin Youth organised ``Disband the RUC'' pickets in Newry and Dublin.

Newry SFY held a protest outside Corry Square RUC barracks which was attended by young and old from the town and surrounding areas. Claire Quigley of SFY said it was a disgrace that ``not one of those RUC men present faced deriliction of duty charges or charges of culpability'' and that ``almost all of Robert Hamill's assailants with one exception are free to walk the streets of Portadown and continually goad and insult members of the Hamill family.''


Antrim echo of Portadown one year on

Last Friday 8 May, on the first anniversary of the beating to death of Robert Hamill in Portadown, another Catholic, a 15 year old Belfast boy, narrowly escaped a similar fate in Antrim.

Kevin Tierney from the New Lodge area of the city was attacked by a Loyalist mob from the notorious Ballycraigy estate wielding baseball bats and sledgehammers. The gang, including men in their thirties, attacked the boy in a Nationalist area of the town as he stood chatting to friends.

``The older men were hitting my legs with sledgehammers,'' said Kevin, ``but I was kicking out so I managed to avoid most of the blows.''

He sustained severe cuts and bruises in the attack, one injury required 9 stitches to his head, before people in nearby houses came out and managed to drive the gang from the area.

``I was in shock when I heard what happened, Kevin's never been in any trouble before'' said Marian Fennell, Kevin's mother, ``He's lucky to be alive. I wouldn't want him going back to Antrim''

Kevin regularly spends the weekends in the town visiting his grandfather but the attack has made him think twice about these trips too, ``I'd go down again but just for the afternoon,'' he said, `` I'd want to get back home the same afternoon.''

As in the Robert Hamill case the RUC have been slow to act, no-one has yet been questioned about the attack.


An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1