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Last Updated: Friday, 2 April, 2004, 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK
Anger over 'terrorism' remarks
Rosemary Nelson
Rosemary Nelson died in a car bomb in March 1999

The family of a murdered County Armagh solicitor has demanded that David Trimble retract comments linking her and another member of the profession to terrorism.

The Ulster Unionist leader has been criticised for remarks about solicitors Rosemary Nelson, who was killed in a booby-trap bomb in Lurgan in 1999 and Pat Finucane, shot by loyalists in Belfast in 1989.

His comments came after the government announced inquiries into Mrs Nelson's murder and that of two others, all of which involved allegations of security force collusion.

However, legal proceedings are set to delay the Finucane case.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Trimble talked about those who "have a clear terrorist connection".

He said he was opposed to such inquiries, but added: "If as a result of this, the truth about Finucane and Nelson comes into the public domain incontrovertibly, there will be some side effect."

Mrs Nelson's brother Eunan Magee described the comments as "totally wrong" and demanded that the Ulster Unionist leader withdraw them immediately.


He said: "Rosemary provided legal representation for her clients. To try and suggest that Rosemary herself was involved in terrorism in some way, it beggars belief."

The Finucane family also expressed anger about the comments.

On Friday, in an interview with the BBC, Mr Trimble said he stood by his comments, saying "offence" to the families was "unavoidable".

"I don't think anybody thought he (Mr Finucane) was simply a lawyer," he said.

"I'm not saying he was (an IRA member), I'm just saying there's very, clear evidence of a close relationship."

Alex Attwood of the SDLP, who is also a lawyer, said the comments were "outrageous" and "offensive".

"Offence has been heaped upon offence," he said.

He said people would look forward to the day when Mr Trimble would be brought before an inquiry and "exposed for the misrepresentations" he has made.

On Thursday, Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy denied the government was involved in a cover-up of allegations of collusion.

He said the delay in holding a public inquiry into Mr Finucane's murder was not a "stalling exercise".

The government said inquiries were to be held as soon as possible into the murders of Mrs Nelson, the killing of Catholic Robert Hamill by loyalists in Portadown in 1997 and LVF leader Billy Wright inside the Maze Prison by jailed members of the Irish National Liberation Army in 1997.

A man has been charged with the Finucane murder and he is due to go on trial in September.

Mr Finucane's widow, Geraldine, said the British Government "continue to cover up the truth about the death of my husband with their delaying tactics".

The human rights organisation Amnesty International described the government's failure to establish an immediate public inquiry into Mr Finucane's murder as "shameful".

Mr Murphy announced the inquiries in parliament on Thursday, to coincide with publication of the reports by retired Canadian Judge Peter Cory who has examined claims of security force collusion in the killings.

Meanwhile, a number of former soldiers named in Judge Cory's report on the murder of Pat Finucane have issued a statement saying they want to face a public inquiry.

In the statement, issued by their London solicitors, the soldiers said they had faced years of criticism without being given the opportunity to state their case openly.

They said the inquiry would let them "correct years of inaccurate press reporting" and claims of collusion.

On Friday, Chief Constable Hugh Orde warned that public inquiries into controversial murders risked undermining confidence in his force.

He said communities must not assume the cases reflected the current state of policing in the province.

Last October, Judge Cory delivered six reports to the London and Dublin administrations about a total of eight killings on both sides of the border.

The retired Canadian judge was appointed by the British and Irish Governments in 2001.


SEE ALSO:
Cory reports: what was said
01 Apr 04  |  Northern Ireland
Murphy's response to Cory reports
01 Apr 04  |  Northern Ireland
Reports court case adjourned
01 Mar 04  |  Northern Ireland
Dublin announces killings inquiry
18 Dec 03  |  Northern Ireland
Judge completes murder reviews
23 Sep 03  |  Northern Ireland
Unresolved deaths: A question of collusion?
02 Aug 01  |  Northern Ireland


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