25 March 1999 Edition

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Mála Poist

Rosemary Nelson 

A Chairde

Please allow me, on behalf of the Troops Out Movement to express our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Rosemary Nelson. The shock, disgust and hurt is overwhelming us here so what her family, friends and the people in the north are going through is unimaginable. In our view she was not just a solicitor for those she represented, but was campaigner for justice, freedom and human rights, an inspiration to all who struggle for those principles.

It was only a week before Rosemary's death that Diane Hamill was with us in England campaigning for a public inquiry into her brothers death and speaking highly of Rosemary's work. The day after the murder our office recieved a cheque for the Robert Hamill Justice Fund which would normally be sent directly to Rosemary's office as representative of the fund. Our contact with the Garvaghy Road Residents Association has also shown us how highly Rosemary was respected and loved.

This horrendous murder has shocked us to the core. The British government must take responsibility for this atrocity. They have created the backcloth against which this type of violence will continue. They have refused to stand up against the intransigence of the unionist politicians on implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. This gives credibility to the bigoted Orange Order who want nationalists excluded from any significant participation in politics.

Blair and Mowlam have been permanently in ``honest broker mode'' as if the problems in the north of Ireland are nothing to do with them. The British government created the monster of ``Northern Ireland'' and must get rid of it.

What the unionists, the Orange Order and the British establishment fear most is the Rosemary Nelson's of this world. She was a women who believed in her own people. As a qualified solicitor many would have expected her to become more aloof from her roots - not at all. Like Pat Finucane before her she put her education and skills to the common good, for justice and truth. This is the real threat to the status quo. This is what the elitists and bigots can't accept, that the ``croppies'' are not going to lie down and the nationalist people will take control of their lives and participate in the governing of their country.

Rosemary Nelson was inspirational. You can kill the visionary but not the vision.

Her vision will live on.

Mary Pearson
Chair, Troops Out Movement PO BOX 1032 Birmingham B12 8BZ

A Chara,

The brutal killing of campaigning solicitor Rosemary Nelson in her car in Lurgan reminded me of the murder of campaigning reporter Veronica Guerin in her car in Dublin. Both were very courageous women who spoke out for truth and justice in the face of severe threats and intimidation. Both paid the ultimate price, leaving behind grieving husbands and children.

I am somewhat disappointed, then, in the contrasting responses to these two remarkably similar women's tragic fates. Within 24 hours of her murder, Rosemary's death had already been relegated by much of the media to the margins. Maybe the difference was because Veronica's murder was without precedent, whereas Rosemary's had been preceded by the equally shocking slaying of fellow solicitor, Pat Finucane. But, knowing what had already happened to another human rights solicitor surely makes Rosemary Nelson's courage all the more admirable and her killing all the more sinister.

After Veronica Guerin was murdered, no effort was spared, not only to find her direct killers, but also to put out of business those who Veronica had alleged had intimidated her and set up her murder.

Alas, the same cannot be said of the northern authorities' response to Rosemary's allegations. True, the RUC has appointed an English officer to ``oversee'' the inquiry, but RUC members will still carry out the investigation. In the past, inquiries into the RUC by English police have been stymied; Scarman was met by ``a wall of silence'', Stalker was falsely smeared and removed and Steven's offices were burned down.

The killers of Rosemary Nelson, whose aim is to wreck the Good Friday Agreement, will have succeeded if the media fail to maintain the same level of interest and pressure for action that was so successful in the aftermath of Veronica Guerin's death.

Is mise, Dessie Ellis, Finglas,
Dublin 11 16/3/99

Letter to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

I write with reference to the vicious assassination of northern Ireland solicitor Rosemary Nelson yesterday. We note the announcement of an independent police inquiry into the murder and the apparent wish of the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary that the murder inquiry will be seen to be both thorough and impartial. One can only speculate if these steps are designed primarily at assisting in the arrest of the murderers or at preserving the somewhat tattered reputation of the RUC, particularly with regard to allegations that Ms Nelson had made about the service.

There was something ironic to see the vast military and police presence around the shattered vehicle in which terrorists had planted the bomb which so cruelly claimed the life of this impressive women. Vilified and harassed by the RUC in life and denied the support that any threatened person should expect from a responsive police service, in death Ms. Nelson's car was surrounded by a police guard.

Another, and more perverse irony, is that in the weeks preceding the murder of Rosemary Nelson the RUC and military apparently had a stream of intelligence about all manner of imminent outrages (all of which thankfully have not materialised) and yet in respect of a women known to be under threat your security forces' intelligence was noticeably deficient?

Parallels have been drawn between the death of another northern Ireland lawyer Pat Finucane and no doubt all manner of speculation will abound. Mr Finucane's death was indeed a travesty but occuring as it did at the height of a surge of killing and violence it was many years before it became the focus of the more reasoned international attention it deserved and is now getting.

Rosemary Nelson's death is, if anything, more poignant occuring within a period of comparative security calm it was, none the less, predicted. It's circumstances should and will be, we feel sure, the focus of minute scrutiny by the international community. A range of organisations will call for international action to investigate, not the crime itself awful as that is, but the failure of the British government and its police and security services in northern Ireland.

It is a sad indictment of the UK and its government that at the end of the twentieth century, on the verge of the new millennium, it cannot ensure the security of those who uphold law and human rights.

J B Moffatt
General Secretary
Celtic League

Dear Sir,

I support the Good Friday Agreement. I want it implemented in full. All four parties have a mandate to be in the executive and all four have members with talent and ability for public service. I can certainly see that to proceed apace - trigger d'Hondt, form an executive, go live - could lock all sides in to democracy. Yet, my heart and soul baulks at decommissioning.

It's not about guns and Semtex. Weapons aren't the problem - they are the symptoms of the problem. The real issues behind decommissioning are trust and intent. It's about hearing a loud and clear ``yes'' response to the question ``do Republicans really want a future for Ireland based on democracy and non-violence?''

To overcome this impasse and put the `peace' in to `peace process' Republicans have to find a way - whatever it takes - of filling a credibility gap in the Unionist psyche. They need to realise they have previously fulfilled every Unionist expectation of being untrustworthy and unreliable. Remember their first cease-fire from 1994 to 1996? Just like the Unionists always claimed - it was a conditional cease-fire. Just like the Unionists always said - throughout that period the IRA planned and prepared to end it in spectacular fashion.

Our conflict is so utterly redundant and yet so hard to let go of. We are like two gangs still fighting over a street corner while a whole new global corporate army marches in to town. Make no mistake; I will never, ever respect Republicans for the hurt and pain and suffering they have caused. But I certainly will begin to respect - and extend a hand of nascent friendship - when they demonstrate their determined will to move on.

John Hoey,
Belfast 15.

A Chairde

The Strabane Branch of Tyrone National Graves Association are organising a coach trip to Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin in August of this year.

After the success of our trips in the past to Kilmainham Gaol, Belfast's Milltown and the bus-run to Kilalla, Co Mayo, we as a Committee decided to charter a coach this summer to tour this renown Republican Shrine.

Kilmainham Gaol has a fascinating and colourful history but its harrowing treatment of United Irishmen and Republican Prisoners that would interest many that visit its dank cells, execution yards and fact filled museum.

The visit to Kilmainham will be followed by a guided tour of Glasnevin Cemetery by Dublin National Graves Association. Glasnevin is the final resting place of very many republican dead and is a very poignant testament to the struggle for Irish freedom.

For further details please contact myself or any other member of National Graves. (Strabane)

John Kelly.

A Chairde

As Irish citizens with an absolute right not only to good government but to take part in government we make the following points:

1) Any investigation into the death of Ms Rosemary Nelson and other atrocities committed by those who oppose the creation of good government, will be useless unless the investigators have these two priorities:

a) To break the wall of silence they will certainly meet in the RUC and which has been part of the RUC ethos even before the military conflict started in the early nineteen seventies.

b) To find and go to the heart of a conspiracy which has cost the lives, homes and happiness of so many people, a conspiracy which will not be broken by the arrest and imprisonment of a few scapegoats from the miserable corners where the operators work, but only when it is admitted that some people are involved who have a veneer of respectability and enough money and status to enable them to work effectively, secretly and destructively.

2) The book entitled ``The Committee'' is deeply disturbing. That the accusations contained in it should have been left uninvestigated by two governments is shameful. Unless and until a competent investigation examines these accusations, as well as the still unsolved acts of destruction in Dublin, Monaghan and elsewhere and goes to the heart of groups and organisations responsible, any investigation into the RUC will be worse than useless because it will give the impression that something useful is being done when in fact what is being done could not possibly have any real effect. We are not interested in seeing a few scapegoats put in prison. We are interested in removing once and for all, no matter whom it effects, a political and moral cancer which has been not only allowed but encouraged to grow in this country.

3) We will be impressing these matters on Mr Ahern, President Clinton, Mr Blair, and others who either have responsibility in our situation or have taken responsibility for it on themselves.

Noelle Ryan
Desmond Wilson
Elsie Best
for a group of concerned citizens

A Chairde

There is only one response possible to the deliberately provocative loyalist murder of solicitor Rosemary Nelson that will prevent the Six Counties from plunging back into the abyss and it is a political one. The Assembly Executive must be formed and formed now. David Trimble must stop dragging his feet and come to a realistic compromise which recognises that IRA disarmament right now, at this moment in time after the attack on Rosemary Nelson, is unrealistic.

Joe Murphy
Formerly Secretary of the Campaign for the Birmingham Six, England.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1