‘Robert Hamill Was Walking Home’ by Joe McVeigh

Robert Hamill was walking home from St Patrick’s Hall in Portadown on the night of April 27th 1997, along with three friends. When they arrived in the centre of Portadown he and one of his friends were attacked by a crowd of about 30 loyalists. As they kicked and punched Robert, some of them were shouting:”Kill him, Kill him!” and “Die, you Fenian bastards!” An RUC land rover was parked nearby. Inside the land rover were four RUC officers. None of them intervened. It emerged later that some of the RUC people in the land rover were personal friends of some of the loyalists involved in the beating.

Robert Hamill was seriously injured that night and taken to hospital. He was on a life support for ten days. He died of his injuries on 8th May 1997.None of the loyalists was arrested that night. They had time to destroy forensic evidence. Seven different statements were released by the RUC over the following days giving conflicting accounts of what happened. On the 28th April, 1997, the day after the attack, five loyalists from Portadown were arrested. On 12th May a sixth loyalist was arrested. After being in custody for five months five of the six men were released. The judge sympathised with them ‘on their ordeal’. Some time later the sixth man was released.

On 24th November 1997, at the request of the family solicitor, Rosemary Nelson, I accompanied members of the Hamill family to meet the then Secretary of State, Mo Mowlam. Robert Hamill’s sister, Diane, presented Mo Mowlam with a petition with 20,000 signatures calling on her and the British government to set up an Independent Public Inquiry into the circumstances of Robert’s murder. It also called for the suspension of the four RUC officers who watched as Robert and his friends were attacked by the loyalist gang. Mo Mowlam expressed her sympathy but said that her hands were tied regarding setting up a Public Inquiry. She did not seem to be well informed about the case and when I told her what the judge had said when he released the suspects she said she had not heard that before. A senior civil servant, Mr Steele, accompanied her at the meeting and told us that the Independent Commission for Police Complaints(ICPC) was already investigating and we should await the outcome of the findings and we should have no reservations about their independence. We told Mo Mowlam that we had no confidence in such an investigation. Time proved us right.

Clearly, there was little chance of the Hamill family getting justice when the RUC was in charge of the investigation and the judiciary was sympathetic to those loyalists who were charged. When Diane Hamill informed Mo Mowlam that the four RUC officers in the land rover that night  had taken “sick leave” and were seeking compensation for trauma, Mo Mowlam said she was not aware of that. She said that she would make inquiries and that we would hear from her office in a short time with answers to our concerns. We never heard anything. It was clear to us that the securocrats were running the show.

Members of the Hamill family along with their solicitor, Rosemary Nelson, continued to campaign for justice for Robert. I joined them and many others in a public protest outside Belfast City Hall on the first anniversary of his murder. Members of the family were continually subjected to sectarian abuse by loyalists. Rosemary Nelson was killed on 15th March 1999, when a booby trap bomb was placed under her car at her home in Lurgan. There is strong suspicion of collusion between the RUC and loyalists in her murder. The RUC had, on many occasions, while interviewing nationalists, said that she was a target. The Loyalists printed vicious leaflets about her accusing her of being a bomb-maker.

During 1997 there were a number of other Catholics attacked and killed. This coincided with the emergence of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) led by Billy Wright and Mark Fulton.  This group is thought to have been responsible for the killing of GAA man, Sean Brown, Bernadette Martin and her boyfriend, James Morgan, Gerry Devlin and Seamus Dillon. These were all killed by loyalists in 1997.

Unionist politicians who preached bigotry over many years (“I would not have a Catholic about my place”) must bear a heavy responsibility for the hatred shown towards Catholics generally in this part of Ireland. Robert Hamill was an innocent man walking home with friends from a night out in St Patrick’s Hall. He was set upon by the Billy boys and beaten to death. His only crime was that he was a Catholic. This is the kind of society that the British created when they decided to set up an Orange six county statelet.  They too bear a great responsibility for the visceral hatred of Catholics by loyalists who support this artificially constructed British colony.



38 Responses to ‘Robert Hamill Was Walking Home’ by Joe McVeigh

  1. TurboFurbo July 31, 2017 at 12:38 pm #

    This racist, sectarian, murderous bigots in the Unionist community have to be confronted and faced down – there can be no hiding place in Ireland for these people.

    Good that the RUC was finally disgraced, discredited, defeated and disbanded and dumped in to the dustbin of history.
    The murderous sectarian bigots in the Unionist community need to face the same fate.

    • huge Celt. July 31, 2017 at 1:10 pm #

      The RUC was not disbanded – it was incorporated into the PSNI.
      That’s the same PSNI that have protected their Mount Vernon Special Branch apparatchiks from Justice for 20 years.

      Different name – same aim.

      The only difference is that Sinn Fein are now paid to be cheerleaders for them.

      • Stephen Kelly July 31, 2017 at 2:02 pm #

        huge Celt. The only difference is that Sinn Fein are now paid to be cheerleaders for them.

        I am sorry to say that i have to agree with you i came out of voting retirement to vote sinn feinn again after the croc thing and for Martin McGuinness god rest him. But i could easily slip back as could some of my friends. I,m sorry but no i don’t trust the PSNI to be impartial to many ex ruc still hanging about like a bad smell. And we think Sinn Feinn don’t do enough to hold the psni to account over the ongoing gangsterism of the UDA/UVF whoever and as for voting millions to Dee Stitt to handle hard to take. I could go on but i don’t want to delve to deep into my doughts about Sinn Feins effectiveness in government and not passing bylaws in councils about flags and bonfires in which we the nationalist voters gave them a majority. Please nobody start about their culture, enough the unionists will never change ever So its up to us to green the north east where we are the majority. And i will as always be nice to my unionist neighbor and not walk down his road banging a big drum while followers piss on the street.

  2. Tam July 31, 2017 at 1:56 pm #

    Why was Joe invited by Nelson to accompany the Hamill family to the meeting with the Secretary of State?

    • Stephen Kelly July 31, 2017 at 2:03 pm #

      Do you mean Rosemary Nelson

      • Tam July 31, 2017 at 2:35 pm #

        Is there another Nelson mentioned in the blog?

        • Bridget Cairns July 31, 2017 at 4:01 pm #

          What an ignorant man you are Tam…

          • Tam July 31, 2017 at 4:12 pm #


            You’ve lost me. Was Joe the parish priest of the Hamill family? Am I supposed to know this?

    • Wolfe tone July 31, 2017 at 6:04 pm #

      Why would that be of importance to you? Does it matter if he was or wasn’t the ‘parish priest of the hamill family’?

      • Tam July 31, 2017 at 6:35 pm #

        I’m curious why he would be invited. What reason would he have to be there, unless he was the family priest?

        • Tam August 1, 2017 at 10:29 pm #

          So nobody knows why Joe was at the meeting and Joe himself won’t tell us.

  3. shay mallon July 31, 2017 at 4:57 pm #

    Huge ted,even though I’m a Sinn Fein voter its hard to disagree with you,as for the likes of tam,ignorant is too nice a word.

  4. Pointis July 31, 2017 at 6:55 pm #

    There needs to be a full public enquiry into the brutal sectarian murder of Robert Hamill and into the Role and involvement of RUC members with those who carried out this murder. The RUC at the time released lies to press that rival gangs had been involved in a fight.

    • Tam July 31, 2017 at 7:11 pm #

      I thought there had been a public inquiry into it?

  5. Sherdy July 31, 2017 at 7:16 pm #

    You mention that the loyalists involved in the murderous attack on Robert Hamill had time to destroy their clothes.
    You might point out that they were contacted, both personally and by phone, by the RUC who instructed them to burn their clothes.

    • Tam July 31, 2017 at 7:49 pm #

      How do you know?

    • Tam July 31, 2017 at 7:51 pm #

      Did it come out in the inquiry that Pointis says still has to happen?

      • Pointis August 1, 2017 at 8:52 am #

        There was a report published but I cannot remember who produced it. The report from my recollection stated that a girlfriend of one of those involved in the murder reported the matter to the police naming her boyfriend. The girl who was a Protestant and lived in Portadown was not put on a protective witness programme and eventually withdrew her allegations and went back to her boyfriend. A number of witnesses had come up to the police land rover on the night and pointed out the name of the man leading the attack on Robert Hamill but police did not arrest him.

        The main suspect and a police officer involved were connected through a gym. The police officer is alleged to have telephoned the suspect and instructed him to burn his clothing which he did. The police officer’s estranged wife eventually reported on her police officer husband a number of years later but no surprise to Mr Hamill’s family or to Nationalists in general that the culprits went free!

        • Tam August 1, 2017 at 9:37 am #

          Thanks. I’m still pretty sure there was a public inquiry and what you’re referring to was in the report of that inquiry.

          • huge Celt. August 1, 2017 at 12:55 pm #

            It was a Judicial Enquiry lead by a Canadian.judge, Peter Cory.

            It was he that recommended a Public Enquiry.

          • Tam August 1, 2017 at 2:05 pm #

            What’s the difference?

          • huge Celt. August 1, 2017 at 3:22 pm #

            It’s very complicated and legalistic, and complicated still further by the Westminster government moving the goal-posts halfway through the process with the 2005 Inquiries Act.
            A cynic might say that they were protecting their own arses.

            But, broadly speaking, a Public Enquiry, has more powers of investigation, has the right to take submissions on Oath, and compel witnesses.

            So, youre half-right, an inquiry into Robert Hammills death was indeed set up, but the recommendations of that Inquiry was to establish whether the grounds existed to set up a Public Enquiry.
            That criteria was satisfied.

          • Tam August 1, 2017 at 4:48 pm #

            Thanks, HC

      • Emmet August 1, 2017 at 11:37 am #

        Tam, justifying crime and terrorism again.

        The RUC lied from start to finish on this one. The RUC were particularly bitter and sectarian in that area. I am sure they helped cover up far more than this that we don’t know about.

        I remember going to one of the Patton public meetings on the RUC- the tales I heard that night sounded like something out of Nazi Germany. I will never forget some of the horrific descriptions from victims about events that never made the news.

        • huge Celt. August 1, 2017 at 3:30 pm #

          @ Emmet.
          Tam didn’t say anything that could be perceived to “justify crime and terrorism”.

          He/she might have a different opinion to you, and do you know what, that’s fine.

          You respond with debate, discussion, and you leave the conversation hopefully having learned something.

          Smearing, or mischaracterisation of someone’s position, as a knee-jerk response seldom resolves a dispute.

          • Emmet August 2, 2017 at 8:14 am #

            Well said HC. Tam has accused me of doing the same and then failed to support her comment. I was hoping she would respond but you spiled it damn you,

  6. Tam August 1, 2017 at 12:22 pm #

    How is pointing out that there was an inquiry ‘justifying crime and terrorism’? You’re lying again.

    I oppose all crime and terrorism. You refuse to condemn it when committed by PIRA.

    • Emmet August 2, 2017 at 8:21 am #

      Tam I showed you that I wasn’t lying last time- you went on to lie about me! Just returning the favour. The British government have been found to have acted illegally and continue to do so. Did you ever condemn the British government?

      As I said before I too oppose terrorism (later you accused me of supporting it!). I can’t say I condemn all crime as some law makers are criminal. When the law makers are law breakers there is no law. I would never condemn the Bloody Sunday March of Jan 1972 even though it was illegal.

      Also, do you think you make the world a better place by condemning things? I am not an important enough position to change anything through condemnation therefore don’t really waste my time on it. Also, it is really only useful to condemn things that are happening now as we can’t change the past unfortunately.

      • Tam August 2, 2017 at 9:24 am #

        You didn’t show me that you were lying. You were and still are using semantics around the definiton of terrorism to avoid admitting your support for the PIRA campaign.

        • Tam August 2, 2017 at 9:26 am #

          That should read ‘you didn’t show me that you weren’t lying’.

          • Emmet August 2, 2017 at 10:33 am #

            You accused me of something and I asked you to show me where I did it so I could clarify my position. But you wouldn’t give me the example of when I supported terrorism.

            You are right about one thing though I did support the PIRA campaign, even when I knew bad things happened. I couldn’t ignore my conscience and simply do nothing. I think given the same circumstances reappearing we would be plunged back into another spiral of violence.

            The choice for my community was to ignore the state terrorism and state sponsored terrorism- many people did this because they weren’t directly in the firing line. Others decided to stand beside those who were in the firing line out of sympathy combined the injustice of the undemocratic partition of a nation and subsequent misrule by a sectarian hate filled government.

            I have also asked you to drop the semantics and give your definition of terrorism. Can you please do this?

          • Tam August 2, 2017 at 12:51 pm #

            Thanks for finally admitting your support for ,,,,,.

            Tam – yellow card. Don’t even think about thus accusing anyone in that manner on this site again or it’ll be your final attempt to do so. Sin é.

          • emmet August 2, 2017 at 1:07 pm #

            No I didn’t lie. Will you answer any of my questions or are you just a troll?

            Based on your comments you seem to dismiss loyalist terrorism as culture. I have yet to see you answer any questions or put your views any scrutiny.

            I am a proud unrepentent fenian. I am proud of the resistance offered by the Provisional Irish Republican Army and look forward to the re-unification of my country after centuries of oppression ‘and you dare to call me a terrorist while you look down your gun. And you brought this reign of terror to MY land’

            There is no place in modern society for what is termed loyalist ‘culture’. The world rightfully rejects any ideas if racial supremacy and groupings like the KKK and Orange Order should not be tolerated and accommodated.

          • Tam August 3, 2017 at 2:14 pm #

            Nothing I have said could remotely be interpreted as a dismissal of loyalist terrorism as culture. I’ve made it clear I’m opposed to all terrorism, whereas you have yet again confirmed your support for PIRA terror (albeit dressed up in euphemistic language).

  7. Argenta August 1, 2017 at 10:13 pm #

    Subject to correction,my recollection is that there was a Public Inquiry at which the Hamill family were represented by the current Director of Public Prosecutions,Barra Mc Grory.

    • Tam August 1, 2017 at 10:28 pm #

      Was this it?


    • POINTIS August 2, 2017 at 4:34 pm #

      Yes, there was an inquiry held under the inquiries act which was established after the Cory Report and which allowed ministers to block an inquiry if he or she felt they could do so under the cloak of national security.

      The Canadian Judge Peter Cory, who was commissioned by the British and Irish governments to investigate the possibility of state collusion in six high-profile murders recommended public inquiries into four of the killings, but has strongly condemned the legislation that quickly followed (Inquiries Act). In a letter read at a hearing of the United States House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations Subcommittee while the legislation was pending, Cory stated:

      “ it seems to me that the proposed new Act would make a meaningful inquiry impossible. The Commissions would be working in an impossible situation. For example, the Minister, the actions of whose ministry was to be reviewed by the public inquiry would have the authority to thwart the efforts of the inquiry at every step. It really creates an intolerable Alice in Wonderland situation. There have been references in the press to an international judicial membership in the inquiry. If the new Act were to become law, I would advise all Canadian judges to decline an appointment in light of the impossible situation they would be facing. In fact, I cannot contemplate any self-respecting Canadian judge accepting an appointment to an inquiry constituted under the new proposed Act.

  8. Argenta August 2, 2017 at 2:42 am #