Monday, 23 May 2011

Inquiries in Northern Ireland ... and Inquests

The Inquiry into the murder, on 15th March 1999, of Northern Ireland solicitor Rosemary Nelson has reported.  She was killed by a bomb attached to her car and a "loyalist" group known as "Red Hand Defenders" claimed responsibility.  The Rosemary Nelson Inquiry has taken 6 years at a cost of £46.5m.   See the Inquiry website from where the report may be accessed.  An earlier report by retired Canadian Supreme Court Judge Peter de Carteret Cory also considered aspects of the Rosemary Nelson case.

The Rosemary Nelson Report raised
a number of serious concerns relating to what was then the Royal Ulster Constabulary and also the government's Northern Ireland Office of the day.  Despite the concerns, the report concluded that there was no evidence of any act on the part of State Agencies which directly contributed to Rosemary Nelson's murder.  However, there were omissions which had rendered her more vulnerable to attack.

This is the latest in a series of reports and Inquiries into events in Northern Ireland.  In 2010 the report by Lord Saville into the events of "Bloody Sunday" was issued.   There was an inquiry and report into the murder of William Stephen (Billy) Wright.  He was murdered at the Maze Prison on 27th December 1997.  A further Inquiry is that into the death of Robert Hamill on 27th April 1997.  This Inquiry has completed a report but it has not been published due to pending legal proceedings against individuals.

It is interesting to note that, within the Police Service of Northern Ireland, is the Historical Inquiries Team.  Funding for this for a further 2 years was announced in February 2011.

A number of other reports by Judge Cory may be seen via Wikipedia.

It was stated in Parliament on 23rd May 2011 that an announcement would be made in the near future as to whether there will be an inquiry into the murder on 12th February 1989 of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.  See Finucane Centre

Inquests:  The question of "Article 2 compliant" inquests was raised before a 7 Judge Supreme Court in McCaughey and Quinn's Application [2011] UKSC 20.  This important case is discussed on the UK Supreme Court blog and will be of particular interest to any readers from Northern Ireland though the effect of the decision is not confined merely to Northern Ireland.  The effect of the decision is that certain inquests into deaths occurring before the Human Rights Act 1998 came into force (1st October 2000) must be Article 2 compliant.

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