Northern Ireland

Robert Hamill family calls for public inquiry to be published

Catholic man fatally injured after loyalist mob beating almost 30 years ago

Robert Hamill
Sectarian murder victim Robert Hamill

The family of sectarian murder victim Robert Hamill has called for a public inquiry report into his death to be made public.

The Catholic father-of-three was beaten by a loyalist mob in Portadown in April 1997 and died in hospital 11 days later from his injuries.

RUC officers, who were in a Land Rover which was parked nearby, were accused of failing to intervene.

On Friday former police officer Robert Cecil Atkinson was sentenced to 12 months behind bars after he admitted to conspiring to cover up a phone call he made to the home of a murder suspect within hours of Mr Hamill’s death.

The killing and subsequent revelations sent shockwaves through the nationalist community.

Tensions had been high in Portadown in the years before Mr Hamill’s murder after nationalist residents in the town’s Garvaghy Road objected to the Orange Order marching through the district, sparking a violent response.

A public inquiry into Mr Hamill’s death was completed in 2011, however it was not published after the Public Prosecution Service was asked bring criminal charges against three individuals from an associated report.

In the aftermath of Atkinson’s conviction, Mr Hamill’s family has called for the public inquiry report to now be published.

In a statement his family spoke of their continuing loss.

“While it has been a long 27 years since our brother’s murder and these criminal proceedings have taken 13 years to be complete, for Robert’s family our grieving goes on and will stay with us forever, as will the sadness we feel that out mother never lived to see some of the semblances of justice for her son no matter how minimal,” it said.

The family confirmed they have asked their solicitor, Seamus Collins of PJ McGrory and Co, to contact the secretary of state to set a date for the publication of the public inquiry report.

A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Office said: “We are aware of the recent sentencing of an individual in connection with the murder of Robert Hamill in 1997.

“Before the Inquiry report may be published, certain formalities have to be complied with under the Inquiries Act.”