Northern Ireland News

I'll Make A Lot Of Noise If Anyone Interferes Oct 8 2003

By Alan Erwin

THE Government was warned yesterday that it should not interfere with a report into controversial murders involving alleged security force collusion in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Canadian judge Peter Cory, who revealed that his exhaustive examination of six killings has uncovered new lines of inquiry, also pledged to hold the Government to its commitment to carry out public inquiries in any cases he recommended.

He said that any bid to alter the 500-page dossier would be resisted.

''I have one younger grandson who expresses it very well. He says 'I'm going down to my room and I'm going to kick and scream and turn blue'.

"I don't think I would kick and scream and I don't think I would turn blue but I would make a lot of noise.''

Receiving the reports in London, Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy said that he would consider their contents speedily and carefully.

He said: ''The two governments are determined that, where there are allegations of collusion, the truth should emerge.

"We will consider the reports urgently and undertake to publish them as soon as possible, in line with the terms of reference.''

He paid tribute to the retired Canadian judge, saying he had put in long hours examining each case.

Irish premier Bertie Ahern said that Minister for Justice Michael McDowell will publish the findings, depending on security aspects.

Mr Ahern said: ''We have not yet finalised the arrangements with the British government on when we will get access to their reports and when they will get access to ours but, certainly, we will exchange information once they are examined by the departments.

"They have an interest in ours and we have an interest in the cases that they put forward.''

The retired Canadian Supreme Court Judge has spent the last 14 months investigating each of the cases after being appointed by the authorities in London and Dublin.

The murders include the loyalist assassinations of lawyers Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson, the killings of a high court judge and two senior RUC officers by the IRA, and the shooting of jailed terror boss Billy Wright.

Prime Minister Tony Blair is committed to setting up public tribunals similar to the hearing on the Bloody Sunday shootings if Justice Cory believes any are needed.

It could be two months before his findings are published.

The judge said that the six cases agreed by the two governments and political parties during talks on the peace process at Weston Park in Staffordshire in 2001 were based on calling public inquiries if needed.

"To do anything else might be something that was demeaning of the Weston Park agreement,'' Mr Justice Cory said.

"There are other ways and other situations that can take the place of a public inquiry.

"As I understand the agreement and what was done, there's no alternative to a public inquiry and what would be understood as a public inquiry in 2001 in these six cases selected at that time in which a public inquiry was recommended.''

Fears have been expressed that his independence could be compromised as legal chiefs trawl through the document to blank out any names or information relevant to criminal investigations.

The judge said: ''To some extent, the report is going to demonstrate that independence.''

He has worked closely with detectives, including Scotland Yard chief Sir John Stevens' team investigating collusion claims surrounding the 1989 murder of Belfast lawyer Pat Finucane.

The judge also disclosed that his work had uncovered details not previously known to the detectives.

He said: ''I have seen things that, because of the routes followed, are additional to some of the police investigations.

"I have had tremendous cooperation from Sir John Stevens and his team and I like to think I co-operated with him in the same way''.

It is understood that Mr Justice Cory will return to the UK in mid-November to check on any amendments made to his report.

With the document having to pass through parliament and then be printed, the publication date is likely to be early December.

Mr Justice Cory accepted that the attorney generals faced a difficult task in balancing any criminal prosecutions against public inquiries, if any were needed.

"Very often it's extremely difficult to hold both at the same time.

"In other instances, it's not.

"It depends on the situation and the nature of the evidence and direction the public inquiry is taking.

"I have written concerning it in the reports.''

With the allegations refusing to go away, Mr Justice Cory said: '' Sometimes myths and legends grow up.

"It's important they be shown to be false.

"Sometimes, you can only do that with public inquiries and exploring what has happened.

"Collusion is, in effect, conniving with those who committed the murder by turning a blind eye and secretly encouraging.

"If there's to be confidence, there has be public inquiries if there is collusion.''


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