Finucane Inquiry' concern

The family of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane received a copy of Secretary of State Paul Murphy’s statement outlining further developments in the case at 3.19pm last Thursday – just eleven minutes before the announcement was reported by the international media.

Mr Murphy’s statement of an “inquiry” into the killing of Mr Finucane has prompted concern among nationalist politicians, human rights organisations and the Finucane family, all of whom argue that the inquiry could already be doomed before it has even begun.

Pat Finucane was assassinated at home in front of his wife and three young children by a UDA gang on February 12, 1989.

It later emerged that at least five members of the UDA directly connected with the murder were also agents for various branches of the RUC, British Army or MI5.

The murder has now become an international exemplar for the policy of state collusion operated by the British government in Ireland during the conflict.

Following sustained political pressure, in 2001 the British government agreed that – after an independent review of the case by Canadian judge Peter Cory – it would implement any recommendations that were made.

Reporting to the British government last October, Judge Cory recommended a full public inquiry into the case.

Sir John Stevens, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, also stated last year that collusion had occurred.

However despite the international focus on the case, Tony Blair’s government reneged on its commitment to implement Judge Cory’s recommendations.
The British government blamed any delay for establishing a full public inquiry on the ongoing trial of loyalist Ken Barrett.

Two weeks ago, Mr Barrett – a former RUC Special Branch agent – pleaded guilty to the charge of murdering Pat Finucane.

That conviction set the context in which Paul Murphy last week announced that “steps should now be taken to enable the establishment of an inquiry into the death of Pat Finucane”.

“In order that the inquiry can take place speedily and effectively and in a way that takes into account the public interest, including the requirements of national security, it will be necessary to hold the inquiry on the basis of new legislation which will be introduced shortly,” said Paul Murphy.

Speaking at length to the Andersonstown News last night, Pat Finucane’s son, Michael, voiced “deep concern” that the British government’s decision to hold large parts of the inquiry in private “has compromised the independence of the inquiry before it is even established”.

“Mr Murphy’s statement contains no detail about the terms of reference, powers or parameters of this inquiry,” he said.

Addressing the controversial issue of national security, Michael Finucane pointed out that his father’s case has – at some time or other – involved every political, policing, military and judicial element of the state.

“The difficulty that I have with saying ‘in the interests of national security this can’t be disclosed’ is that it is national security on the line here.

“But it’s not in some theoretical sense. People are dead – people who should be alive today are dead.

“The key question is, to what extent was collusion a systematic practice between the British establishment and loyalist paramilitaries?

“I point to the fact that all branches of the establishment have been involved at different stages in this case - the RUC Special Branch, the Force Research Unit, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Attorney General, the Defence Secretary.

“There isn’t a single element of the establishment not touched on in that.
“Now I’m sorry, but I didn’t make them do this. They did it to themselves, and it seems to be a real double standard to say that national security was required to do all these things but now national security is being used to hide behind.

“The fear is that this inquiry is compromised before it gets off the ground. It’s not independent and probably won’t be public. We’ve been consistent along the line in demanding a public, independent, judicial inquiry. Now if you take away two of those four words you’re not left with very much.”

Mr Finucane said that his family will be raising their concerns directly with Tony Blair when they travel to Downing Street in the next few weeks.
“We made a request for a meeting with the Prime Minister when my mother wrote to him a number of months ago.

“There was no reply from Mr Blair because the letter was forwarded to Paul Murphy,” said Michael Finucane.

“I understand that during the course of the Leeds Castle talks last week these issues were raised and it was at this stage that the government related to Sinn Féin and the SDLP that the inquiry would be announced based on new legislation.

“It was Gerry Adams who then said that if you’re going to do this, then you have to meet with the Finucane family and Mr Blair agreed and the Irish government, who were also present, supported that,” added Michael Finucane.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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