Thatcher’s day on stand will come – Finucane

On the eve of solicitor’s 15th anniversary, we talk to his wife Geraldine Finucane

The wife of murdered North Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane has said the day that former Tory PM Maggie Thatcher takes the witness stand at a full public inquiry into his killing is drawing nearer.
And she says the international judge appointed by Tony Blair to look into the controversial murder has told her the British government must publish a true reflection of his findings.
As pressure mounts for the truth into the notorious and brutal murder of Pat Finucane, Geraldine Finucane told the North Belfast News that nothing less than an “expansive” inquiry was needed to unveil the murky and deadly involvement of the RUC Special Branch and the British Army’s Force Research Unit (FRU) in murder.
And she said the political establishment as well as the British military must take the stand at an inquiry and be called to account for their actions.
“It has always been regarded that Margaret Thatcher was the top of the chain of command. An inquiry would establish that. All the people on that chain are accountable and it has always been our aim to get to the truth,” she said.
“She was a hands-on prime minister and liked to know everything first hand,” said Geraldine Finucane.
“She was involved in everything and where Northern Ireland was concerned – particularly with the death of her close friend Airey Neave and Lord Mountbatten – she liked to be briefed directly. She like this so she could be sure of things.”
Next Thursday marks the 15th anniversary of the February 1989 death of the 39-year-old solicitor. He was gunned down by the UFF in his home in Fortwilliam as he sat with his family eating dinner. A UDA gunman pumped 14 shots into Pat Finucane in a British army-led loyalist murder campaign which peaked in the late ‘80s and 1990s.
Just weeks prior to the murder Douglas Hogg, a junior minister in the Thatcher government, used parliamentary privilege to name solicitors whom he claimed were “sympathetic” to the IRA.
To this day Douglas Hogg still stands by his comments.
A huge number of nationalists – most of them civilians – on whom the FRU had prepared files and handed over to the death squads, were from North Belfast.
Relatives of those targeted were often the innocent victims of the loyalist gunmen when they came to call.
An army checkpoint set up on the Antrim Road on the night of the murder was withdrawn to let Pat Finucane’s killers through the security force cordon.
Geraldine Finucane said she wanted to know “exactly what policy was carried out” at every level.
That policy led to the British state murder of hundreds of its own citizens and allowed loyalist killers like South African gunrunner Brian Nelson to kill with impunity.
Geraldine Finucane said any inquiry would also expose the policy of the British government at that time.
As Judge Peter Corey adds his call to the long list of legal and human rights groups for a judicial probe into one of the most controversial murders of the conflict, the Finucane family say it all went right into the heart of Maggie Thatcher’s cabinet.
“From the minute Pat was killed there were obvious questions to be asked. The Douglas Hogg statement had been made prior to Pat’s death and we accepted this meant more than just what was being said (by the RUC to loyalists) during interrogation in Castlereagh. There was government involvement,” she said.
But she revealed that it was only gradually that the layers had been peeled off in the aftermath of her husband’s murder to reveal more details of a specific drive from the heart of the British cabinet led by Maggie Thatcher.
“Everything was slow in the beginning and it was quite a long period of time before anything happened. But that gave me time to get over Pat’s murder. It allowed us to have a routine and just to settle ourselves. Then Nelson was arrested and the (Stalker) investigation came about. The momentum only then started to gather.
“Then all the Non-Governmental Organisations and all the people involved were all up and running about collusion and the family just grew together. We as a family and the NGOs just grew as a family at an even pace. I always think after Rosemary Nelson was murdered, her family was just thrown into things at the deep end, but for us it became part of our lives.”
Many of the world's most prestigious NGOs including Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, Human Rights Watch, the International Federation of Human Rights and the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights have issued reports on the circumstances around Pat Finucane’s murder.
And other respected NGOs, especially the Committee on The Administration of Justice (CAJ) in Belfast and British Irish Rights Watch in London, agreed also of the compelling need for an independent judicial inquiry.
Geraldine Finucane said she was convinced the day was coming for an inquiry, but fears that when one is eventually launched the British government will seek to have its range limited in order not to expose the heart of the truth. Another threat to the truth is the marathon and ongoing Stevens III inquiry.
“There is something massive that has been hidden and the people involved do not want it to come out. There are only two names out there in the public domain such as Gordan Kerr, the head of the FRU.
“There are lots of other people still in charge and running the FRU in the intelligence community, these people are still around. It’s in their interests for this not to come out at the minute.”
At the moment the British have been accused of stalling tactics over its decision not to publish the Corey report citing legalities and interests of national security.
That is despite the Irish government immediately publishing the Canadian judge’s findings into killings in the Republic which were blamed on Garda collusion with the IRA.
“Things have been going on for far too long and it’s still continuing and the British government still won’t allow a public inquiry,” said Geraldine Finucane.
“But I intend to push on. We are still intent on forcing the publication of the Corey report.”
But what if the British decide to edit out the key evidence in the Corey report citing national security as the excuse?
“Judge Corey has told me that if they publish and it is not representative of the report then he will tell us what was taken out. He said to me ‘I will say whether it is a reflection of what I wrote’. He has written the report avoiding all the sensitive areas.”
Geraldine Finucane said she was not surprised that Peter Corey has found grounds for a public inquiry.
“He is a very intelligent man of great expertise. He has worked in the Canadian Supreme Court. The evidence is what I knew about and other people, like the United Nations special rapporteur and the US Congress – they all called for an inquiry into the evidence as presented.
“I thought he (Corey) should find that. He is an independent man of integrity and he was not going to be got at by anybody. Although I didn’t feel the necessity for him to be appointed, he adds to the list of eminent people who have called for an inquiry.”

Journalist:: Andrea McKernon

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