“We’re hugely saddened as we reflect on loss of Rosemary’s life”
It has been 20 year’s since solicitor Rosemary Nelson was brutally murdered in a car bomb outside her home in Lurgan.
From her tiny office at the top of William St, she represented some very high profile clients but the majority were ordinary people from her home town.
Often her fees were waived for those who might struggle to pay and the respect she was held in the town was unparalleled.
Rosemary came to prominence as the solicitor for some high profile republicans, including Colin Duffy.
She also represented the family of Robbie Hamill who was killed after a barbaric kicking in Portadown in 1997.
She also worked as a solictor for the Garvaghy Residents Association during the Drumcree disputes in Portadown in the late 1990s.
However the vast majority of her clients were ordinary local people.
Rosemary was killed in March 15, 1999 after a bomb exploded under her car outside her home close to a local primary school in Lurgan.
The murder was claimed by the loyalist gang, the Red Hand Defenders however there was widespread concern of security force collusion in the murder.
Mrs Nelson had previously complained that she had received numerous death threats and had voiced these concerns with the United Nations and US Congress.
A public inquiry into her murder found no evidence that the security forces had ‘directlly facilitated’ her murder but ‘could not exclude the possibility’ that individual members had helped the perpetrators.
On her 20th anniversary her children paid tribute to their mother.
In a statement on Friday they said: “Today marks the 20th anniversary of the passing of prominent human rights lawyer, Rosemary Nelson. At least, for most, that’s the reputation which endures. But in fact, it’s her multi-layered nature which is most worthy of honour today.
“In the minds of the many who encountered Rosemary during the early days, it’s a tale of resilience which resonates. Even in her younger years she noted that the odds were stacked, but that didn’t stop her from hurtling towards opportunities and dismantling the obstacles anyway – for herself, and others, too.
“For those who witnessed Rosemary in a professional setting, it was her steely faith which drew attention – that unfaltering conviction which commanded her working days. She instilled belief in her clients, and they in turn placed their confidence in her.
“When it comes to the many at the receiving end of Rosemary’s help, it’s hard to determine just what their lingering memories are – but perhaps that’s the point. Through the power of her compassion, the four walls of the Lurgan office transformed into a confidential haven whereupon sadness was shielded; fears unleashed; and faith restored.
“But for those closest to Rosemary – and lucky enough to occupy that special, padlocked component of her heart – she was so, so much more.
“She sprinkled her laughter and zest-for-life passion upon any occasion, and set more than one meal alight during her cooking forays.
“Though Rosemary’s driving was impressive, her sense of direction left a lot to be desired, and the sounds of the Lighthouse Family and Mary Black were the backdrop of choice to any long journey.
“She loved her family and friends fiercely, and through her parents, siblings, husband, and children, her greatest fuel was forged.
“And as the darkness of each night reared, Rosemary gathered her children before her as she wiped off her make-up; chatting, laughing, and ensuring that a reaffirmation of love lulled them off to a peaceful sleep.
“Today on the 20th anniversary, we’re hugely saddened as we reflect on the loss of Rosemary’s life. We grieve for the milestones which we should have shared; the lessons which we were yet to learn; the unwritten chapters which lay before us with hope and expectation.
“But mostly we’re grateful for the blessings which Rosemary’s lifetime brought us. And as we continue to pave our own paths, we will always take fuel from her, just as she did from us.
“Thank you, mum. We miss you.”
Also on her anniversary some of her colleagues paid tribute to Mrs Nelson.
KRW Law Human Rights said: “Thoughts and prayers with the family and friends of our esteemed professional colleague Rosemary Nelson on the 20th anniversary of her murder.”
Madden & Finucane Solicitors said: “Fond memories of our friend and colleague Rosemary Nelson on the 20th anniversary of her murder.
T”oday marks the 20th anniversary of the passing of prominent human rights lawyer, Rosemary Nelson. At least, for most, that’s the reputation which endures. But in fact, it’s her multi-layered nature which is most worthy of honour today.”