Long finger of the law

A number of inquiries into killings in the Six Counties by British forces, directly or as a result of collusion with unionist paramilitaries, have been postponed.

The final report from the new Bloody Sunday Inquiry will not be published until at least the end of next year, a full three years after the tribunal ceased public hearings.

In response to a letter from two of the Bloody Sunday families, Lord Saville cited the huge amount of evidence as the reason for the delay.

There had been frequent requests from the Bloody Sunday families for information about the progress of the report.

In his letter Lord Saville pointed out that the tribunal heard evidence from 922 witnesses and received witness statements from a further 1,563 people.

The announcement means the final report may not be issued until a full 10 years since the inquiry was established in January 1998 by Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Sinn Féin’s Maeve McLaughlin said it was unacceptable that the publication date had been postponed again.

“The families of those killed and injured have endured enough over the years without the further torment of not knowing when the findings will be made public,” she said.

“The truth of what happened on Bloody Sunday needs to come out but the delay in the publishing of the findings is eroding public confidence that the inquiry will achieve this.”

Liam Wray, whose brother Jim was also shot dead on Bloody Sunday, said he was disappointed although he accepted the wait.


The public inquiry into the murder of Rosemary Nelson has been postponed until September 2007 at the earliest.

The inquiry has said it will not be possible to complete outstanding work to allow the full hearing to begin as planned next January.

It said that because of the amount of work still to be done, it is not able to set a definite new date for the start of the hearings.

Unionist paramilitaries planted a booby-trap bomb underneath the mother-of-three’s car outside her Lurgan home.

The inquiry was one of four recommended by former Canadian judge Peter Cory after he investigated a number of cases involving allegations of collusion.

The others are into the murders of Robert Hamill, Billy Wright, and Pat Finucane.

Retired English High Court Judge Michael Morland had been due to start hearing evidence in the Rosemary Nelson inquiry on 16 January 2007

A statement from the inquiry panel said: “The inquiry recognises that this news will disappoint some of those who are concerned with its work.

“It has reached its decision only after carefully considering the progress made to date in all areas of its work and the adverse consequences of deciding to maintain the present start date.”


Meanwhile, the Robert Hamill Inquiry team has denied progress has been held back by the resignation of its lead solicitor.

Patricia Fitzmaurice left the post two months ago - just six months into the job - although details have only emerged now.

There is no indication when the post will be filled.

The latest setback for the inquiry follows controversy over its remit and delays due to court proceedings.

Mr Hamill, a 25-year-old Catholic, died after being attacked by a sectarian mob in Portadown, County Armagh in 1997.

Armed RUC police officers were in a nearby Land Rover at the time but failed to intervene. No-one has been convicted over the murder.

Twenty former police officers asked to appear have mounted a legal challenge after the inquiry ruled they could not give their evidence anonymously, leaving a question mark over the date when public hearings can start.

The provisional date is the end of March 2007 or early April 2007 - although this remains subject to court developments.

* The latest inquiry into the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings is likely to seek a further extension to next week’s deadline for its report.

The inquiry, led by senior counsel Patrick MacEntee, was due to present its findings to the Irish government on Tuesday.

However, reports have indicated that Nr MacEntee will seek a sixth extension to complete his work.

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