Republican News · Thursday 02 March 2000

[An Phoblacht]

evening for Robert Hamill

Guardian columnist Jeremy Hardy will be joined by Ardal O'Hanlon and Jo Brand in an evening of stand-up comedy and music on Sunday 5 March in the Jazz Café in Camden, North London to raise money for the Robert Hamill Family Campaign. The line-up also includes London Irish band Neck as well as comedians Kevin McAleer, John Moloney, Robert Newman, Ed Byrne and Gino Lupary.

Jeremy Hardy, who has campaigned for a number of years on Irish and other human rights issues, explained why he, an Englishman, became involved with the Robert Hamill campaign.

He said: ``I think all British people have a responsibility to take stock of what is happening in the North of Ireland because it remains within our jurisdiction, and because great harm has been done by the British in Ireland. There have been very many incidents like this, but this one struck me as particularly terrible. It's an issue, I think, which Irish people should focus on, because it's so much about what's wrong in the North, but anybody who is concerned about racism should be involved as well.''

Once he had become aware of the circumstances surrounding Robert Hamill's murder, he says, he began to write on the issue, but it was Rosemary Nelson, the Hamill family solicitor and human rights campaigner who, before her own assassination by loyalists, inspired him to become more directly involved, becoming ``a great friend'' in the process.

This campaign is also part of a wider one against racism in which Jeremy is involved and, as he is keen to point out, ``there are striking similarities between the racist murders which have taken place in Britain in recent years and the failings of the police'' and Robert Hamill's murder, most notably the case of Stephen Lawrence. ``But in Robert's case the police are actually more culpable because they were present, and not only did they not make any arrests, they wilfully failed to protect Robert's right to life.''

Neck singer Leeson O'Keefe is also concerned with the wider human rights issues raised by the case. He explained that the group, described as `Psycho-Céilidh', are keen to draw in an English as well as Irish audience to enable them raise awareness of events in Ireland. The stage, he says, can also be a platform.

In Britain, he says; ``most people outside the Irish community are not aware of what is going on. But there are sections of the English community who would be quite appalled to learn about what has gone on in Ireland. It's up to our community to raise these issues and to throw light on them for the people we live amongst. We need to galvanise the Irish community itself, but also to draw people in.''

Evening for Robert Hamill will take place on Sunday 5 March, 7.30, at The Jazz Café, 5 Parkway, Camden, London NW1. Tickets 15 available from credit card hotline 0171 344 0044 and all Ticketmaster outlets. Tickets also available from The Ticket Shop, 3 Parkway, Camden. Information line: 0181 963 0940.

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