Belfast Telegraph

Edgar Graham's sister condemns loyalist killings of fellow solicitors

Anne Graham speaks at the event last night
Anne Graham speaks at the event last night
Edgar Graham
Anne with George Clarke, Alban Maginness, Lord Paul Bew and Ben Lowry
Steve Aiken and Arlene Foster
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

The sister of a unionist lawyer murdered by the IRA has condemned the killings of fellow solicitors Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson, who were murdered by loyalists, at an event in Belfast marking 36 years since her brother's death.

The inaugural Edgar Graham Remembrance Seminar in Queen's University's Riddel Hall marked the contribution Mr Graham made to academic and political life in Northern Ireland.

Mr Graham - who was an Ulster Unionist member of the then Assembly at the time of his death and a rising star in the party - was shot in the back of the head by the Provisional IRA on December 7, 1983 at Queen's University Square as he made his way to conduct a lecture in constitutional law.

No one was ever convicted for the 29-year-old's murder.

Speaking at last night's event, his sister Anne said that too many politicians and lawyers have been killed in Northern Ireland and condemned the deaths of Mr Finucane and Ms Nelson, who were both murdered by loyalist paramilitaries.

Ms Graham added that her brother stood for the rule of law and became "a darling" for the silent majority - not just for unionists but also nationalists.

"Those were dark times and there had been extreme measures such as internment, the Diplock courts, supergrass trials and allegations of shoot-to-kill policies," she told the audience.

"The criminal justice system was under tremendous pressure."

Ms Edgar continued by saying that her brother didn't deserve to die.

"I hope and pray that as Northern Ireland is yet again convulsed by rancour and division that people, and particularly politicians, will consider carefully what they say and do so that we never again sink into the abyss of hatred and intolerance which led to Edgar's death," she added.

The event, which was organised by victims and survivors group South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF), included a panel discussion involving former North Belfast MLA Alban Maginness QC; PSNI Assistant Chief Constable George Clarke; Lord Paul Bew, a former adviser to first minister David Trimble; and deputy editor of the News Letter, Ben Lowry - who were asked if Northern Ireland's criminal justice system is working.

The majority of those in attendance included figures from the legal profession, academics, students and friends of Mr Graham's.

SEFF's Kenny Donaldson stated that it has always been his organisation's position to condemn the murder of Mr Finucane and also that of Mr Graham.

However, the problem, according to Mr Donaldson, is that many people cannot bring themselves to condemn both killings, and last night's message was aimed at consistently condemning the violence that once engulfed Northern Ireland.

"For someone who was an administrator of the law to be murdered because he had a vision for a better place says a lot for the type of country we lived in at the time," Mr Donaldson added.

Students had previously marked the 35th anniversary of Mr Graham's death last year at the site of his murder.

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