Issue 1 - 2023 front

10 May 2001 Edition

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Hamill family still seek justice

Tuesday 8 May marked the fourth anniversary of the killing of Robert Hamill in Portadown. The family have released a statement was issued by Robert's sister, Diane Hamill, on behalf of the family.

``It is four years to this day that my brother, Robert Hamill died. He was just 25 years old. Robert was attacked by a Loyalist mob beside an RUC Land Rover with four armed RUC officers inside. The story of how they failed to protect or assist Robert portrays a disturbing image of sectarian police officers, which has reverberated far beyond Portadown.

Murder is the theft of a basic human right to life. To loose a member of your family in such a way it is difficult to imagine that life can ever continue as before, impossible to forget the sorrow and sense of loss. Perhaps justice might go some way to easing the pain but four years on we still have no justice, still that slight comfort is denied.

The campaign for justice did not begin by design rather it was forced by necessity. As Robert lay unconscious in a hospital bed I found myself publicly challenging the version of events depicted in RUC press releases. They insinuated that Robert had been involved in clashes between rival factions but witnesses had told a different story.

Eleven days after the assault the RUC eventually acknowledged that Robert was an innocent victim of an assault. The following day he died and only then was this treated as a serious crime and arrests made. It seems as though it is not a crime for a mob to attack a Catholic in Portadown - it only becomes a crime once a Catholic dies and the RUC are publicly challenged about the circumstances.

The RUC had put little effort into securing evidence, witness statements or suspects at the time of the incident. It seemed inconceivable that they would be allowed to proceed with the murder investigation considering the complicity of RUC officers present that night. They would never satisfy our quest for truth, and ultimately I did not believe anyone would be convicted for Robert s murder.

There are many questions concerning the assault and the conduct of the RUC both during and after the attack, which have still to be answered. There has been no inquest, no investigation without RUC involvement and as a result no-one has been held accountable for Robert s murder. There is an investigation in progress at present under direction of the Ombudsman s office but it still relies on RUC intelligence and manpower.

Every avenue of justice has been exhausted with numerous deviations en route. We can see no other course of action but that of an inquiry as we have consistently asked for from the beginning. Four years on I feel it is time for the British Government to instigate a public judicial inquiry. In order for society to accept the past and move forward this shameful mockery of the law must be resolved for what is society without justice?''

Diane Hamill

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1