Daily Ireland

Editorial: Finucane cover-up goes on

It is 16 years since the human rights solicitor Pat Finucane was brutally cut down at his north Belfast home. While we haven’t come as far as we would like in the search for truth and justice in the case, we can say now that we know that Pat Finucane was killed by the British government.
The killer gang that carried out the murder was being directed by British intelligence. British intelligence is a tool of the British government. The buck stops at Downing Street.
It is this bald fact, confirmed by the Stevens inquiry, that is standing in the way of the full and open public inquiry that the Finucane family, human-rights campaigners and concerned individuals would like to see.
Clearly, if it is an established fact that the British were up to their necks in the murder of Pat Finucane, then the full and open inquiry that justice demands can only further expose the murderous machinations that were part of London’s dirty war in Ireland.
Some day, it will all come out but short-term political considerations dictate that the current British government is not keen for the truth to come out on its watch.
That is why it has reneged on its promise to the family.
The Inquiries Bill currently making its way through the British parliament will hobble the inquiry to such an extent that it will no longer be worthy of the name.
Tony Blair painted himself into a corner with his promise to the Finucane family of a public inquiry. The result was that the British government simply set about rewriting the rules.
The restrictions on openness and fairness that will kick in once the bill is passed will impact on inquiries other than that on Pat Finucane. Not that long from now, the idea of a public inquiry as it was once known will no longer exist.
The bill effectively takes the power of instituting inquiries out of the hands of parliament and puts it into the hands of the government of the day.
That government will be entitled to restrict the scope of the inquiry, and ministers will be allowed to issue restrictive notices on the attendance of individuals and the presentation of documents. These notices will be issued, as Secretary of State Paul Murphy put it, according to “the requirements of national security” — that is, when it suits.
Such notices will automatically have effect for 30 years.
Finally, the bill will entitle ministers to issue and withhold all or part of an inquiry as they please.
It is hardly surprising that such draconian legislation is being put into place in order to stymie attempts to get to the bottom of state murder in the North.
Not even a fraction of the British government’s skulduggery in the North has so far been revealed. It is highly likely that the vast bulk of it will remain a secret forever.
In the murder of Pat Finucane, we have a small snapshot of the murderous lengths to which the British state went in the North.
There is huge determination within the British establishment to ensure that the big picture is never seen.

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