Belfast Telegraph

Report into Troubles deaths delayed

The publication of two multimillion-pound public inquiries into controversial killings during the Troubles has been hit by delays.

The reports into the deaths of Robert Hamill and Rosemary Nelson were due to be handed to the Government by the end of the year.

But Northern Ireland Secretary of State Owen Paterson informed the Commons that the Hamill report is now not expected until the end of February at the earliest while the Nelson report is set for a further two months hold up to the end of April.

The Hamill probe has cost £32.4 million to date while the Nelson inquiry has worked up a bill of £45.5 million.

Mr Hamill, a 25-year-old Catholic, died after being attacked by a loyalist mob in Portadown in 1997 amid allegations police officers watched the incident but failed to intervene and stop it.

Mrs Nelson, a Catholic lawyer from Lurgan, Co Armagh, died when loyalists planted a booby-trap bomb underneath her car outside her home in March 1999. In her case police allegedly ignored death threats made against the 40-year-old mother of three.

Mr Paterson tabled a written statement to parliament revealing the delay. "I have written to both Inquiries to ask them to expedite their work and to continue to bear down on costs in these remaining months," he said.

The Hamill and Nelson killings were two of four deaths recommended for inquiry by former judge Peter Cory, who was investigating claims of security force collusion.

The inquiry in the shooting of loyalist leader Billy Wright by republican inmates inside the Maze prison in 1997 reported in September and found no evidence of collusion.

An inquiry into the loyalist shooting of Catholic lawyer Pat Finucane in his Belfast home in 1989 has not yet been established, with Mr Paterson due to make an announcement next year on whether a probe will go ahead.

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