Nelson inquiry to publish findings


A public inquiry into the murder of solicitor Rosemary Nelson in Northern Ireland will tomorrow release its findings, more than 12 years after she was killed in a loyalist bomb attack.

The probe has examined claims that police failed to respond to threats made against the lawyer, plus allegations that security forces may have colluded in her killing.

The 40-year-old mother of three died when a bomb exploded underneath her car as she left her home in Lurgan, Co Armagh, on March 15th, 1999.

She rose to prominence after taking-on a number of high profile clients, including alleged republicans.

Jane Winter of the London-based British-Irish Rights Watch group had lobbied for protection for Nelson prior to her death and said her case had major significance.

“Although every murder is dreadful, and you can’t distinguish between them, when a lawyer is murdered because of the work they do, then that has ramifications for the whole of the criminal justice system,” she said.

“A lawyer should not be identified with the clients that they represent. They are just professionals doing their job. So that’s why killing a lawyer has particular significance.

“But also in Rosemary’s case, the significance lies in the fact that those who murdered her were hoping, I think, to disrupt the peace process.

“Fortunately it didn’t have that effect, just like the Omagh bombing didn’t have that effect.

“It would have been incredibly tragic if it had, because Rosemary herself was a huge supporter of the peace process.”

The solicitor represented clients whose cases placed her at the centre of some of the most controversial episodes of the period.

Her murder was claimed by the loyalist Red Hand Defenders, but her death sparked claims of a possible security force link.

Nelson’s killing came as Northern Ireland political leaders were in Washington for St Patrick’s day talks on the future of the peace process. Her assassination immediately became a major political issue and fuelled calls for police reform in Northern Ireland.