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Monday, March 15, 1999 Published at 16:50 GMT


Car bomb kills Northern Ireland lawyer

Wreckage: Explosion left Mrs Nelson with fatal injuries

A car bomb attack has claimed the life of one of Northern Ireland's most prominent human rights lawyers.


Liz MacKean reports: "No-one has owned up to the attack"
Rosemary Nelson was driving away from her home in Lurgan, County Armagh, when a booby trap device ripped her car apart at about 1300GMT.

The death comes as Northern Ireland's political leaders gather in the US for St Patrick's Day celebrations amid increasing tension over attempts to begin paramilitary decommissioning.

Mrs Nelson died in hospital two hours after suffering extensive injuries in which she lost both her legs and suffered massive abdominal injuries.

The wreckage of her silver car ended up on its side in a ditch just 50 yards away from the primary school where the youngest of her three children, eight-year-old Sarah, was on her lunchtime break.

Her two sons, aged 11 and 13, are currently on a school skiing trip in France.

Mrs Nelson had just returned from a weekend in County Donegal with her husband and it is understood her car had stood unattended outside her home over the weekend.

She was a prominent figure, because she represented many high-profile names from the Nationalist and Republican communities.

Among her clients were Catholic residents in the nearby town of Portadown, objecting to the annual Drumcree parade of the Protestant Orange Order passing their homes.

The stand-off over the parade has become a major focus of sectarian tension which has spilled over into violence throughout the province.

Only a few weeks ago Ms Nelson helped lead demands for an inquiry into alleged collusion between elements of British security forces and Protestant paramilitaries which led to the 1989 killing of prominent Nationalist lawyer Pat Finucane.

Mr Finucane was murdered in front of his family at home by a gunman but no-one has yet admitted responsibility for the death.

Although the main paramilitary groups say they are observing a ceasefire, there are splinter groups on both sides that are still committed to violence.



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