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Brother of Nelson says families face being vilified

(Tom Kelly, Irish News)

Victims' relatives are being vilified for demanding the truth about killings linked to the north's security forces, it was claimed last night (Sunday).

With the authorities under pressure over the legal costs involved in a number of inquiries, a brother of the murdered solicitor Rosemary Nelson has said families are being isolated.

The tribunal investigating the March 1999 bombing outside her home in Lurgan, Co Armagh, is not expected to hold public hearings until next year.

"It is bitterly disappointing," Mrs Nelson's brother Eunan Magee said.

"Delays are certainly unwelcome and the sooner we get to the bottom of things the better

"People are questioning the need for inquiries but I think the best way to deal with the past is to acknowledge the wrong done so people can move on.

"The most upsetting thing is these people standing up, nearly queuing up, to vilify families for wanting the truth.

"They're trying to persuade the public into believing that families are being unreasonable."

SDLP leader Mark Durkan last night backed the fears expressed by Mr Magee.

"The family of Rosemary Nelson are entitled to the full truth of the circumstances of her murder," Mr Durkan said.

"Ironically the very people who insist that no stone be left unturned in the pursuit of law and order are now railing against the costs of this process.

"We have seen this before. But let us be clear – the problem here is with the facts and not with the costs."

Owen Paterson, the Conservative Party spokesman on Northern Ireland, said his party had no issue with families involved in the inquiries but wanted a debate on the use of police resources.

Mrs Nelson's brother said much of the spending now attributed to the inquiries was the result of failed police investigations that the government had insisted on holding prior to the latest probes.

"I think there are forces afoot to halt any inquiries," he said.

"The family are made to feel they are guilty of trying to hinder progress towards the new future in Northern Ireland but the most sensible way of embracing the new future is to deal with the wrongs of the past."

August 7, 2007

This article appeared first in the August 6, 2007 edition of the Irish News.

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