Belfast Telegraph

Rosemary Nelson and Robert Hamill probe files will be held up for months

By David Young

The publication of two multi-million pound 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 Secretary of State Owen Paterson informed the Commons that the Hamill report is not expected until the end of February at the earliest, while the Nelson report is to be released at the end of April.

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

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 long-running £200m Bloody Sunday Inquiry was hit by years of delays before its eventual publication in the summer.

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 into 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.

Mr Paterson said once he received the Nelson and Hamill findings he would seek to make them public as soon as he could.

“As with the Bloody Sunday and the Billy Wright inquiries, it is my intention to publish these reports as soon as practicable after I receive them, and I will inform and update the House accordingly,” he said.

SDLP Upper Bann MLA Dolores Kelly said the delay will cause dismay for the families and the local community.

She said: “Naturally, the families which have waited so many years will be disappointed at further delays. But that is not the only dimension.

“Delays in publication of the Saville Report were deliberately used as an excuse to attack the whole concept of independent inquiries into killings by or related to the security forces. When Saville was finally published, it was so devastating that it put a stop to this partisan sniping.”

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