28 December 2005

British trying to pervert Nelson probe

Daily Ireland

US lawyer and colleague says solicitor was a victim of agents of the state


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The remains of Solicitor Rosemary Nelson's BMW car after she was fatally injured in an under-car booby trap bomb attack outside her home in Lurgan - Photo: William Cherry/PACEMAKER 15/3/99

In the law, there is a time-honoured axiom that justice delayed is justice denied.
In the case of Rosemary Nelson justice was denied during her lifetime and has been delayed after her death.

Of course, readers of Daily Ireland are familiar with Rosemary, her work, her courage and her assassination in a case marked by overwhelming evidence of collusion by state agents.
She distinguished herself as a legal champion of those citizens unfortunate enough to have become objects of government prosecution, harassment, false accusation and intimidation.
Because of her success within the British legal system, cowards masquerading as patriots killed her on March 15, 1999. As Daily Ireland readers also well know, Ms Nelson was the subject of brutish and obscene threats by members of the RUC for at least three years prior to her killing.
Thus we should not be surprised that an inquiry established by the British government to investigate collusion by its own agents has once again delayed the day of reckoning.
As a lawyer and colleague of Rosemary, I find the recent announcement by the Rosemary Nelson Inquiry of a delay in public hearings until January 2007 to be contrary to the interests of justice.

Under threat from RUC

I learned of Rosemary’s death as I was en route to a White House reception hosted by Bill and Hillary Clinton to celebrate St Patrick’s Day and the ongoing peace process in Ireland.
Obviously some in Ireland and Britain had not yet accepted the dream of an Ireland of shared dignity and respect for the law. I, and many others, were in shock that Rosemary was killed when for two years we had been sounding the alarm that her life was in danger and she was in need of protection.
Space does not allow me to set forth a complete chronology of the warnings and appeals sent to British and Irish officials on Rosemary’s behalf. But let me highlight several of the most significant communications.
March 13, 1997: Correspondence to Sir Louis Blom-Cooper, Independent Commissioner for Holding Centres reporting death threats against Ms Nelson by RUC detectives stationed at Gough Barracks.
April 14, 1997: Attorney Lynch reports to Ms Nelson that the RUC threats against her were raised by US Senator Robert Torricelli with British ambassador to Washington John Kerr.
June 30, 1997: Correspondence from Lynch to RUC Chief Inspector Day of continuing threats against Ms Nelson by members of the RUC.
June 30,1997: Correspondence from Lynch to Independent Commission for Police Complaints (ICPC) chairman Donnelly reporting threats against Ms Nelson, requesting referral of matter to the Attorney General of Great Britain and stating: “I am concerned that if prompt and responsible action is not taken, Ms Nelson will meet the same fate as that of Patrick Finucane.”
July 17, 1997: Lynch corresponds to Jack Straw, British home secretary, reporting continuing threats against Ms Nelson and requests prompt action “to get to the bottom of the matter”. Lynch concludes: “My immediate concern is the safety of Ms Nelson.” Straw does not respond.
July 17, 1997: Lynch writes to Mrs P Russell, ICPC deputy executive, and requests appointment of an investigator to promptly conduct a “thorough and unfettered investigation of the threats against Ms Nelson”.
July 24, 1997: British Ambassador Kerr advises US Senator Torricelli that the ICPC is having “great difficulty” in pursuing the Nelson investigation because of her ignoring “suggestions" that she meet with RUC investigators. He suggests that she contact the Gough Barracks, the source of threats against her.
July 25,1997: RUC Chief Inspector Day writes to Lynch to advise that “this matter continues to receive my urgent attention".
July 27,1998: Jerome Shestack, president of the American Bar Association, writes to Secretary of State Mowlan urging the British government to take all necessary steps to end the harassment of defence lawyers in Northern Ireland.
September 9,1997: Simon Rogers, NIO Police Division, advises that Ms Nelson’s complaint is to be closed down because of her “failure to cooperate”.
November 5 and December 1, 1997: Submission of statements of witnesses to RUC Chief Inspector Day and ICPC detailing threats by identified RUC officers against Ms Nelson.
January 5, April 20, July 20,
July 21, August 10,
September 10, September 14, September 16,1998: Lynch in correspondence with RUC, ICPC and Commander Mulvihill of the London Metropolitan Police citing ongoing harassment and threats against Ms Nelson by RUC members.
September 21 and 22, 1998: Lynch and Ms Nelson participate in personal presentation in Belfast of witnesses and statements to Commander Mulvihill and three investigators from London Metropolitan Police documenting dates, places and details of threats against Ms Nelson. Names and descriptions of RUC officers engaged in misconduct and obscene threat are provided. Assurances given of full and vigorous investigation and punishment of offenders. No discipline enforced against any identified RUC officer engaged in threats.
November 12, 1998 and January 25, 1999: Lynch communicates to Mulvihill requesting action and status of investigation.
February 27, 1999: Lynch and five US colleagues meet with Chief Ronnie Flanagan at RUC Headquarters, Belfast and urge him to deal with the ongoing threats from his force against Ms Nelson. He assures the delegation that the matter is “under investigation".
March 15,1999: Rosemary Nelson is killed in Lurgan
March 15,1999: Lynch telephones Flanagan and is advised in return message that. “No stone will be left unturned” in the investigation of the killing of Ms Nelson.

British arrogance

On April 19, 2005 the inquiry into the death of Rosemary Nelson by the British-appointed inquiry team opened with great ceremony at the Lurgan Community Centre. The chairman, Sir Michael Morland, emphasised the independence of the inquiry and stated that decisions as to the work of the Inquiry would be “ours and ours alone".
Sadly, this attitude of all-knowing superiority has been the hallmark of British conduct in Ireland throughout the relationship of Ireland and Britain.
Sir Michael anticipated that public hearings would commence in the spring of 2006. That date has now been pushed back to January, 2007.
Justice delayed truly is justice denied. While living, Rosemary and her friends and colleagues diligently sought justice from the British state. She was denied.
For almost seven years since Rosemary’s death, truth and justice have been delayed, avoided and obfuscated in the search for the perpetrators of the threats and collusion which took the life of a courageous defender of the rights of all the citizens of Ireland.
Now we are told that we must wait another year for justice to be delivered to Rosemary, her beloved family and the many clients and ordinary people who Rosemary helped along the way in a life of service to her fellow men and women.
In the view of this lawyer and admirer of Ms Nelson, the case has not been made for additional delay. The hearings should commence before witnesses disappear, memories fade and the wrongdoers enjoy another day of tranquility.
I close with the comments of Martin Luther King Junior delivered in Memphis a few days before he was cut down by gunmen. When I hear Dr King’s words, I picture Rosemary.
Perhaps you will also.
“Every now and then I guess we all think realistically about that day when we will be victimised with what is life’s final common denominator – that something we call death. We all think about it. And every now and then I think about my own death, and I think about my own funeral. And I don’t think of it in a morbid sense. Every now and then ask myself, ‘What is it that I would want said?' And I leave the word to you this morning.
“I’d like somebody to mention that day, that Martin Luther King Junior tried to love somebody. I want you to say that day, that I tried to be right on the war question.
“I want you to be able to say that day, that I did try to feed the hungry. And I want you to be able to say that day, that I did try, in my life, to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say, on that day, that I did try, in my life, to visit those who were in prison. I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.
“Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind.
“But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that’s all I wanted to say. If I can help somebody as I pass along, If I can cheer somebody with a word or song, if I can show somebody he’s traveling wrong, then my living will not be in vain.
“If I can do my duty as a Christian ought, if I can bring salvation to a world once wrought, if I can spread the message as the master taught , then my living will not be in vain.”
Yes, Rosemary Nelson was a drum major for righteousness and all of the other shallow things don’t matter.
And her living was truly not in vain for all who she cheered with word or deed. We miss her each day. We must honour her sacrifice by bringing to light the truth behind her death and resolve that never again will the state be allowed eliminate one of its most courageous champions of the rights of the people.

Edmund Lynch is a US attorney who has won a number of awards for his work in the field of human rights.

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