Belfast Telegraph

Plea to Blair over Finucane inquiry

By Chris Thornton
15 February 2005

American Congressmen have written to Prime Minister Tony Blair, asking him to drop new legislation that allows his Government to keep secrets from an inquiry into Pat Finucane's murder.

The letter from 24 members of the US Congress, sent yesterday, calls on Mr Blair to immediately proceed with the independent investigation into collusion in the 1989 murder.

Mr Blair has promised an inquiry, but only after the bill is passed. Ministers will have greater powers to to keep secrets from the inquiry under the new law.

The Finucane family has refused to support the inquiry because of the new restrictions.

The Congressmen said the Government's commitment to the Finucane inquiry "appears to be tenuous at best".

"We note that your government recently announced inquiries into a number of other controversial cases - without waiting for the Inquiries Bill," the letter says.

"Attempting to put the Finucane case under restraints of a new bill has already threatened the public perception and credibility of the investigation's final conclusions."

Lord Stevens, the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, concluded in 2003 that there had been collusion between the loyalist killers and members of the security forces.

Retired Canadian Supreme Court Justice Peter Cory followed up with a report recommending a public inquiry into the case.

"In light of all the testimony presented to the US Congress, as well as the findings published by Judge Cory, we believe that the prompt holding of an independent public inquiry into the murder of Patrick Finucane is a necessary confidence-building measure for the peoples of Northern Ireland," the US representatives said.

"On behalf of the Finucane family and several international human rights activists, we urge you to push forward under current law, without the controversial changes embodied in the Inquiries Bill pending in the Parliament.

"While we recognise that the peace process has reached its most challenging hurdle to date, we believe that the compelling history of the Finucane case and the concerns and recommendations set out by Judge Peter Cory move this human rights case far beyond ongoing party talks."

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