Court of Human Rights Ruling
The Troops Out Movement welcomes the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Pat Finucane on 1st July 2003.
The Court found that Pat Finucane’s right to life, which is protected under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, had been violated in a number of ways:
The European Court of Human Rights concluded “The Court finds that the proceedings for investigating the death of Patrick Finucane failed to provide a prompt and effective investigation into the allegations of collusion by security personnel. There has consequently been a failure to comply with the procedural obligation imposed by Article 2 of the Convention and there has been, in this respect, a violation of that provision”.
Troops Out Movement join with Amnesty International, British Irish Rights Watch and the Committee on the Administration of Justice in calling on the British Government to take immediate action to give effect to the judgement of the Court and:
Pat Finucane’s son, Michael said “The responsibility for this matter now rests squarely with the British Government and how they will meet their obligations under the European Convention. It remains to be seen whether they will take their Convention obligations seriously now that, once again, they have been measured and found wanting. The only way that the British Government can hope to reclaim any part of its shattered reputation is by establishing a full, independent judicial public inquiry without any further delay”.
We fully endorse his statement.
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 Cory 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 Gordon 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 Cory 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 Cory report.”
But what if the British decide to edit out the key evidence in the Cory report citing national security as the excuse?
“Judge Cory 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 Cory 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 (Cory) 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.”
to be British government 'stalling'
For the last 15 years the British government has blocked calls for an independent inquiry into Pat Finucane's murder.
For much of that period it claimed that any inquiry would prejudice investigations by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens.
However, in 1999 Amnesty International commissioned three human rights barristers to ascertain whether an independent inquiry would indeed prejudice a criminal investigation.
The barristers concluded that such a probe would not prejudice any criminal investigation, noting that the British government had set up a public inquiry into the killing of London teenager Stephen Lawrence while a Metropolitan Police murder investigation was ongoing.
At an estimated cost of more than £12 million Sir John has conducted three investigations into allegations of security force collusion with loyalist paramilitaries over the last 15 years.
In 1989 the then RUC chief constable Sir Hugh Annesley first asked Sir John to investigate allegations of collusion after loyalists were found to be in possession of large numbers of security force intelligence files.
In later years, as evidence of security force wrongdoing in the Finucane killing emerged, government spokesmen claimed that this wide-ranging Stevens One inquiry had also fully investigated the solicitor's murder.
It only became clear much later that this was not the case. Although Stevens One was completed in May 1990, its findings were never made public.
A published summary found that while there had been collusion, it had been neither "widespread nor institutionalised". Mr Finucane's murder was not mentioned.
And while the Stevens One investigation said it had found no evidence of widespread collusion, it later emerged that nearly 2,000 security force files were in the hands of loyalists.
Stevens One led to 47 prosecutions, and although most of these related to loyalist paramilitaries, the figure also included UDR soldiers. No RUC officer was prosecuted over the leaks.
Sir John did, however, stumble across evidence that another branch of the security services had been involved with loyalist paramilitaries.
In January 1990 the Stevens team arrested Brian Nelson. While Nelson was known to be a senior UDA intelligence officer, it was not until he admitted being an agent for the British army's shadowy Force Research Unit (FRU) that security force involvement in Mr Finucane's murder started to emerge.
At his trial Nelson faced 35 charges, including aiding and abetting murder, but when these were drastically reduced he agreed to plead guilty.
He was not convicted over the Finucane killing but was sentenced to 10 years in prison and served five.
A second investigation, dubbed Stevens Two, was set up after a BBC documentary, The Dirty War, revealed how Nelson had warned his army handlers that the UDA was targeting Mr Finucane.
It revealed that, far from being a 'renegade', Nelson had been actively assisted by his handlers in collating intelligence for the UDA and UVF.
This came amid other allegations of collusion and the director of public prosecutions wrote to Sir Hugh suggesting that these matters again be investigated.
Although Stevens Two lasted nearly three years, little is known about what new evidence, if any, was uncovered.
Three reports went to the DPP but resulted in no prosecutions. The Stevens II report has never been published.
Throughout this period the Finucane family and human rights groups continued to gather evidence to support an independent inquiry dealing specifically with the solicitor's murder.
In 1999 a new report into the killing was presented to the governments by the London-based human rights group, British Irish Rights Watch (BIRW).
While BIRW had wanted to see an inquiry as a result of its report, the document was instead passed to the RUC and the then chief constable, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, called Sir John back to Northern Ireland.
The decision to have the murder investigation reopened, as opposed to calling an inquiry, angered the Finucane family. They insisted that they would have no contact with Sir John, branding his investigation a government "stalling tactic".
There was further controversy when in April 1999 Sir John held a press conference to launch his probe and declared that neither of his first two inquiries had investigated Mr Finucane's murder.
In a statement which contradicted the stated government line throughout the 1990s, he said: "At no time was I given the authority by either the chief constable of the RUC or the DPP to investigate the murder of Pat Finucane."
Although Stevens Three is nearly five years old, no-one has been convicted of Mr Finucane's murder.
UDA/UFF members Billy Stobie and Ken Barrett, who were also revealed to be informants for RUC Special Branch, are the only people to have been charged with the killing.
But Stobie's trial collapsed when the Crown's main witness refused to give evidence. Less than a month later Stobie was shot dead by the UDA/UFF.
A major development in the Finucane case came in February last year when Sir John delivered the report from his latest investigation. The report stated officially for the first time that there had been security force collusion in the murder.
Although Sir John has forwarded files on 20 serving and former security force members to the DPP for possible prosecution, no-one from the DPP's office was last night available to state whether anyone was to be prosecuted.
In July 2002 the British and Irish governments appointed retired Canadian judge Peter Cory to determine whether there should be independent inquiries into six murder cases involving allegations of security force collusion.
At that time both governments pledged to abide by Judge Cory's findings.
The Irish government published the two reports it received from Mr Cory in October last year. The British government has refused to publish any of the four reports it has received, claiming that it is studying "legal and security implications" before any publication.
Judge Cory took the unusual step last month of warning that he would go public if the British government attempted to renege on its commitment to publish.
"I have made noises that I considered appropriate at this time and I suppose there may come a time when I make more noise," he said.
of Cory Report
Findings of Judge Cory
“They (FRU) were aware that Nelson
was a central player within the UDA, and that he had considerable
influence in directing targeting operations. They were also aware
that Nelson often played a direct and active role in reconnaissance
missions. The provision of information to Nelson in these circumstances
may be seen as evidence of collusive behaviour that had the potential
to facilitate the deadly operations planned by the UDA.” (page 102)
'Focus on victims of a 30-year dirty war'
On February 12 1989, the solicitor Pat Finucane sat down to dinner at his Belfast home with his wife, Geraldine, and their three children. At 7.25pm a masked gunman from the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Defence Association broke down the front door. Fourteen shots were fired into Finucane's head, neck and torso, killing him instantly.
Judge Cory said there was documentary proof that MI5, the army and Special Branch knew about a plot to kill Finucane before his murder. They failed to act to save him because they preferred to protect their loyalist paramilitary informers.
Finucane, 39, had appeared in high-profile legal cases, defending alleged IRA or Provisional IRA members, and had represented the hunger striker Bobby Sands. He also acted for protestants. Judge Cory said Finucane was a "law-abiding citizen" who was killed because he was a solicitor.
A few weeks before Finucane was murdered, the Home Office minister Douglas Hogg stated in parliament: "Some lawyers are unduly sympathetic to the cause of the IRA." Judge Cory said statements made by the ex-chief constable of the RUC had belittled Finucane's integrity and that the police tended "to identify a solicitor with his clients". The RUC kept a file on Finucane and his alleged Republican background, and recorded his "legitimate activities" as a lawyer and supporter of human rights.
Judge Cory said the police investigation into his murder was thwarted by Special Branch, which was "controlling the situation" and withheld vital information. Two agents were being protected: Brian Nelson, a key player in the UDA and an informer for the army's crack intelligence squad, the Force Research Unit, and William Stobie, a former soldier in the British army and a UDA quartermaster who turned Special Branch informer. Both are now dead.
Nelson had compiled detailed index cards - known as "personality cards" - on intended UDA victims, including Finucane. Another loyalist paramilitary had told him that Finucane was "someone really big... the brains behind the provisional IRA". Judge Cory said a public inquiry would determine how much his handlers knew about the targeting of the lawyer.
Stobie claimed he twice informed Special Branch about the threats to Finucane, but they did nothing. MI5 was first told about threats in 1981, but took no action on the "very real and imminent" threat because it would compromise its agent. Just two months before the murder, security services were told Finucane was a "shoot to kill" target but nothing was done.
Judge Cory said a public inquiry should investigate whether British security forces gave "tacit encouragement or even active facilitation" of UDA operations and targeting of victims that led to murder. He described a "cumulative picture" of possible army, MI5 and Special Branch collusion. Nelson - whom the army knew was involved in protection rackets and planning murders - was given information by his handlers that may have helped in UDA murders.
Judge Cory also raised the question of security of army weapons. One member of the Ulster Defence Regiment - "a man all too fond of alcohol, a loner" - had stolen weapons and sold them to loyalist paramilitaries. They were later used in Finucane's murder. One of the murder weapons was a 99m [sic] Browning pistol. Stobie told Special Branch that he had given the UDA paramilitary a 99m [sic] Browning pistol and the target was almost certainly Finucane. He later told one journalist he couldn't sleep a wink that night and that he was sure the murder would be foiled. He "could not believe it" when he heard Finucane was dead.
Special Branch knew that, three days after the murder, Stobie had been ordered to pick up and hide a 99m [sic] Browning pistol. Judge Cory found no indication that they took steps to recover the weapon. The police were said to have a "selective bias" in which they perceived threats by Republican terrorist groups to be more dangerous and deserving of attention than those made by loyalist terrorist groups.
not see Inquiry into dad's murder
Pat Finucane's son Michael speaks about his Cory Report frustration
In an exclusive interview in today's Andersonstown News, the son of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane says he doesn't expect to see an independent inquiry into his father's murder in his lifetime.
Michael Finucane was speaking after the fall-out from Thursday's publication of the long-awaited Cory Report continued.
The British government's decision to body-swerve Judge Cory's recommendation for a public inquiry into Pat Finucane's 1989 assassination has caused fury across the nationalist community and among international human rights organisations. “It has been 15 years since my father's murder. One can easily see how the British government can string out ‘judicial proceedings' for at least another 15 years – if not much longer,” said Michael Finucane.
“Frankly, the reality is that I may now never see a public inquiry into my father's murder during the course of my own lifetime,” he added.
Pat Finucane's son, Michael, last night told the Andersonstown News there is now a real prospect that he will never see a public inquiry ordered into his father's assassination during the course of his own lifetime.
Michael Finucane's stark comments come as the full ramifications of Judge Peter Cory's four reports on state collusion with paramilitaries – along with the British government's responses – have begun to generate widespread anger in the nationalist community. Censored versions of Judge Cory's reports into the killings of Pat Finucane, Rosemary Nelson, Robert Hamill and Billy Wright were publicly released by the British government last Thursday – five months after they were submitted by the retired Canadian legal figure.
In responding to Judge Cory's recommendation that a public inquiry should be instigated in relation to each incident, the British agreed that inquiries would be set up under the Police Act 1998 in relation to the Nelson and Hamill cases, and under the Prison Act 1953 in relation to the Wright killing.
Despite concerns about the over-arching role of the Northern Ireland Office in being able to establish and regulate all aspects of inquiries under Section 44 of the Police Act, the Nelson and Hamill families have given a cautious welcome to the prospect of some movement on the cases.
However, the British government's decision to body-swerve Judge Cory's recommendation of a public inquiry into Pat Finucane's assassination has caused fury across the nationalist community and among international human rights organisations.
Speaking in the House of Commons last Thursday, Secretary of State Paul Murphy said that, in relation to Pat Finucane's killing, “an individual is currently being prosecuted for the murder”.
“For that reason, we will set out the way ahead at the conclusion of prosecutions.”
Now, however, the Andersonstown News has uncovered a formal statement last May by the former NIO Security Minister, Jane Kennedy, in which she responded to demands for a public inquiry by stating that nothing would be allowed which “cuts across judicial proceedings”.
“We would have to ensure that no public inquiry cuts across judicial proceedings,” Ms Kennedy told a debate in Westminster Hall on May 14, 2003.
Informed legal observers believe that this sweeping definition of “judicial proceedings” is intended to include criminal proceedings, crown court trials and – crucially – appeal court hearings.
Michael Finucane, himself a solicitor, voiced serious concerns yesterday that he and his family will be forced to wait far longer than anyone believes before the British government “sets out the way ahead” in responding to Judge Cory's report on his father's murder.
“The British government's position is there, on record from last year, and it has not altered appreciably following Paul Murphy's comments last week.
“We don't know how many prosecutions are intended into my father's murder.
“We hear that 20 or 22 files may have been, or are being, sent to the DPP in relation to this case.
“It has been 15 years since my father's murder. One can easily see how the British government can string out “judicial proceedings” for at least another 15 years – if not much longer.
“The British could set up a situation which leads to a domino effect of persons being charged, facing trials, being convicted or acquitted, followed by appeal hearings that continue for many, many years.
“Frankly, the reality is that I may now never see a public inquiry into my father's murder during the course of my own lifetime,” said Michael Finucane.
One of the critical aspects of the Cory report on Pat Finucane's assassination is the confirmation that the Security Service (MI5) “provided overall direction for and coordinated intelligence initiatives carried out by other agencies such as FRU and RUC Special Branch”.
“The Security Service did not play an active role in the day-to-day operations of these agencies, though it did act in a supervisory capacity.”
MI5 (which supervised FRU and Special Branch), had a joint committee along with MI6 operatives in Ireland, called the Joint Irish Section (JIS).
The JIS reports directly to the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), which is part of the Cabinet Office.
In turn the JIC is directly accountable to Downing Street, and it is the evidence of this chain of command - from Special Branch and FRU, through MI5, through the JIS, through the JIC and Cabinet Office, and ultimately through to the Prime Minster's office – that those who identify collusion as ‘institutionalised policy' are now highlighting.
Both the Special Branch and MI5 declined to take any action to notify Mr Finucane of three threats against his life – in August 1981, in June 1985, and in December 1988.
Judge Cory also found that just four months before he was killed, in November 1988, senior Special Branch officers – along with the then RUC Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable – provided a briefing to British Junior Minster, Douglas Hogg. This was followed in January 1989 by Special Branch forwarding Mr Hogg a report about Pat Finucane that alleged he was closely linked to “PIRA/PSF”.
Under the cloak of parliamentary privilege, Mr Hogg then made a highly controversial remark that there were a number of solicitors in the North who were “unduly sympathetic to the cause of the IRA”. Within weeks Pat Finucane was assassinated. Four of the key UDA members involved in the killing have since been identified as Special Branch or FRU agents.
was British State policy
Fifteen years after the assassination of leading Belfast defence lawyer Pat Finucane, his widow Geraldine delivered her first public speech in Ireland about the ongoing scandal.
Delivering the annual PJ McGrory Memorial Lecture at St Mary's College [sic. Belfast] on Saturday afternoon, Geraldine told a capacity audience that Pat's “name and memory are more alive now, long after his death, than they have ever been”.
Entitled ‘Long Road to the Truth', Geraldine's moving address charted the difficult course faced by the Finucane family to obtain the truth about Pat's murder.
“My family and I will not stop travelling the road we have embarked upon until a fully independent, public judicial inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane is established,” she said.
“It seems, however, that the closer we get to the establishment of that public inquiry, the further away it is.
“It is a strange situation to be in, where something you have worked for becomes more difficult to achieve the closer you get to it.
“I would compare the journey to being like climbing a mountain.
“The progress you make at the bottom of the mountain is quick because the ground is well-trodden and the climb is not so steep.
“But as you progress up the slope and you get further away from familiar ground, the going gets tougher and the terrain becomes much steeper.
“The air is thinner and easy paths are more difficult to find.
“When you close in on the summit, progress can slow to a near halt, as each step requires more and more effort.
“The journey toward the establishment of a public inquiry into Pat's murder is the mountain we have had to climb.
“The difficulty of the terrain is the resistance from the State.
“Our summit, of course, is the truth,” said Geraldine.
Bravely rehearsing the facts about her husband's murder, Geraldine pointed the finger at British Minister Douglas Hogg who “slurred the reputations of solicitors working”.
Security documentation was provided to the UDA through the British Army spy Brian Nelson so that loyalist assassins "could be more effective in targeting people for assassination".
Brian Nelson's Commanding Officer, Brigadier Gordon Kerr, was in charge of a secret military unit called the Force Research Unit.
“Brigadier Kerr, under the pseudonym ‘Colonel J, gave evidence at Brian Nelson's trial in order to help mitigate the sentence imposed upon him.
“This appearance by Kerr was approved at high levels within the British political and army establishments, just as the activities of the FRU were sanctioned and approved.
“After Kerr gave his evidence, he received a letter from General Sir John Wilsey, General Officer Commanding, Headquarters Northern Ireland: ‘I cannot let your most sensible and effective contribution on 29 January go without congratulating you most warmly. Not only did you more than honour your commitment to Nelson, but you also served the Army's and I judge national interests, extremely well.'
“My family and I have not co-operated with Sir John Stevens, but I think part of his report is worth quoting here, if only because it is so forceful in its simplicity: ‘My enquiries have highlighted collusion, the wilful failure to keep records, the absence of accountability, the withholding of intelligence and evidence, and the extreme of agents being involved in murder. These serious acts and omissions have meant that people have been killed or seriously injured.'
“When Sir John Stevens quoted this statement aloud in Belfast on 17 April 2003, he set the case of Pat Finucane apart from all others and changed fundamentally something about the fabric of the place in which we live.
“This happened not just because of what he actually said, but also because of what his statement represented.
“In delivering even the briefest of summaries of his full report, the Commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police, the highest-ranking Police Officer in Britain was saying, in plain and unmistakable language, that collusion happened.
“That it was real.
“That it is real.
“Sir John Stevens – a British Police officer, their foremost police officer – confirmed that collusion with paramilitaries was institutionalised, that it was entrenched, that all of the rumours and accusations, claims and counter-claims made over the years were absolutely true. That it was part of British State policy in Ireland and may even have prolonged the conflict.
“The murder of Pat Finucane is not just about the killing of one man: it is a documented example of a British Government policy in action: state-sponsored murder,” declared Geraldine.
“When Judge Cory finished his work in October 2003, he delivered his reports to the British Government for publication, a commitment that had been made at Weston Park by both the British and Irish Governments.
“They both agreed that, ‘[t]he relevant Government will publish the final reports (but not the documents on which they are based) subject only to any necessary adjustments to ensure that the privacy and right to life of individuals is protected…'
“This did not happen.
“The reports presented to the British Government were not published for six months after they were submitted.”
Outlining the legal battle that she and her family had to mount in order to ensure publication of the Cory Report, Geraldine quoted the comments of senior NIO representative Joe Pilling who claimed that there are “complex legal and human rights considerations that must be resolved before publication to prevent the risk of a successful challenge that would stop publication.”
“When the reports were eventually published on 1 April this year, the version of the report by Judge Cory on Pat's case was the most heavily censored of them all,” said Geraldine.
“On 1 April 2004, Paul Murphy MP, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, made a statement in the House of Commons to accompany the release of the four reports.
“In the case of my husband, no commitment to a public inquiry was given, nor has one been offered since.
“I am now engaged in another court case against the British Government to compel them to commence a public inquiry into the murder of my husband, as recommended by Judge Cory.
“I should not have to do this.
“The British Government made a commitment to implement the recommendations of Judge Cory and they are breaking that commitment by refusing to commence an inquiry.
“I have spent the last fifteen years fighting to expose the truth behind the murder of my husband.
“I believe that the truth will remain hidden until a fully independent public judicial inquiry is established to investigate all of the circumstances.
“If justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere, then the millions who have watched the attempts to deny justice to Pat Finucane and his family by the British Government will not allow themselves to be diminished without responding.
“The legacy of Pat Finucane will not be diminished for as long as one person demands the truth.
“It is this, the continuation of this work, this vocation, this ideal, that brings us together this afternoon in memory of Pat Finucane, under the memorial of Paddy McGrory,” Geraldine said.
Thursday 23 September 2004 by Secretary of State Paul Murphy MP
As I said when publishing Justice Cory's reports, the Government is determined that where there are allegations of collusion the truth should emerge. The Government has consistently made clear that in the case of the murder of Patrick Finucane, as well as in the other cases investigated by Justice Cory, it stands by the commitment made at Weston Park.
However, in the Finucane case, an individual was being prosecuted for the murder. The police investigation by Sir John Stevens and his team continued; and it was not possible to say whether further prosecutions might follow. For that reason, the Government committed to set out the way ahead at the conclusion of prosecutions.
The prosecution of Ken Barrett has now been completed, with Barrett sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Patrick Finucane. It is still possible that further prosecutions might result from the Stevens investigation into the murder of Patrick Finucane. Nevertheless, with the Barrett trial now concluded, and following consultation with the Attorney General, who is responsible for the prosecutorial process, the Government has considered carefully the case for proceeding to an inquiry. In doing so, the Government has taken into account the exceptional concern about this case. Against that background, the Government has concluded that steps should now be taken to enable the establishment of an inquiry into the death of Patrick Finucane.
As in any inquiry, the tribunal will be tasked with uncovering the full facts of what happened, and will be given all the powers and resources necessary to fulfil that task. 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.
Thursday 23rd September 2004 from the Finucane family
At last the Government have conceded that the truth should emerge about the circumstances surrounding Pat's murder.
The fact that Paul Murphy has announced the establishment of an enquiry is not the end of the matter.
The fact that he has not announced a "public" enquiry means that the Government probably does not intend to have a proper inquiry.
We have been asking for the truth to emerge for the last 15 years.
There is no need for new legislation to protect the public interest or national security because the current law caters for this.
Special legislation when it isn't needed can only mean that rather than the truth emerging what will emerge is cover up and lies.
into Finucane - but what kind?
Today, the UK authorities have finally announced that an inquiry into the 1989 killing of Patrick Finucane in Northern Ireland will be established. However, instead of announcing a public judicial inquiry under the Tribunal of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921, the UK authorities have stated that the inquiry will be held on the basis of legislation to be introduced shortly.
Amnesty International views this announcement with great suspicion. It states that the Finucane inquiry will require the introduction of new legislation to take account of "the requirements of national security". In light of this, Amnesty International strongly suspects that the UK authorities are using "national security" to curtail the ability of the inquiry to shed light on state collusion in the killing of Patrick Finucane; on allegations that his killing was the result of an official policy and that different government authorities played a part in the subsequent cover-up of collusion in his killing.
"With this announcement, the UK authorities are making the 'public interest' subservient to 'national security'. However, the public interest can only be served by ensuring public scrutiny of the full circumstances of Patrick Finucane's killing and its aftermath," Amnesty International said today.
A further concern is the fact that in their statement the UK authorities do not commit themselves to setting up a public inquiry. The failure to set up a public inquiry would amount to reneging on their commitment to fully comply with Justice Peter Cory's recommendation. In his October 2003 report into the Finucane case, Justice Cory concluded unequivocally that "only a public inquiry will suffice".
Patrick Finucane, an outspoken human rights lawyer, was shot 14 times in his home in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1989 by loyalist paramilitaries. His was just one among a number of killings alleged to have been carried out with the collusion of UK security forces.
In the aftermath of Patrick Finucane’s killing, substantial and credible allegations of state collusion began to emerge almost immediately. Since then, prima facie evidence of criminal conduct by police and military intelligence agents acting in collusion with loyalist paramilitaries in the killing has emerged. In addition, allegations have emerged of a subsequent cover-up by different government agencies and authorities, including the police, the British Army, MI5 (the UK Security Service, officially "responsible for protecting the UK against threats to national security") and the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland.
In May 2002, the UK and Irish governments appointed Justice Peter Cory - a former Canadian Supreme Court Judge - to investigate a number of killings in which government security forces were reported to be involved, including the killing of Patrick Finucane.
Justice Cory submitted his reports in October 2003, but it was not until April 2004 that the UK authorities finally published them, simultaneously announcing the creation of public inquiries into three cases. However, they refused to announce a public inquiry into Patrick Finucane's case despite Justice Cory's unequivocal conclusion that in his case "only a public inquiry will suffice". Instead, the authorities have referred to "set[ting] out the way ahead at the conclusion of prosecutions".
On 16 September 2004, Kenneth Barrett, a former loyalist paramilitary, was convicted of, and sentenced for, the murder of Patrick Finucane. His was the only outstanding prosecution arising from the case. Kenneth Barrett’s conviction removed any purported justification on the part of the UK authorities not to immediately initiate a public inquiry into the allegations of collusion in Patrick Finucane's killing.
Statement from the Law Society of England and Wales 23/09/04
Public inquiry into murder of solicitor must finally uncover truth says Law Society
The Law Society is pleased that the British Government has finally agreed to set-up an independent inquiry into the death of solicitor Patrick Finucane.
However, the Society is gravely concerned that the inquiry will be held under proposed legislation which may prevent the full disclosure of findings. In addition, the inquiry is being delayed yet again while this new legislation is introduced.
For the past nine years the Law Society of England and Wales has campaigned for a public inquiry into allegations of state collusion in the murder of the Belfast solicitor in 1989.
On 20 September, Edward Nally, President of the Law Society of England and Wales, wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to order a public inquiry.
Mr Nally believes the case deserves special treatment because of its impact on the administration of justice; "The Law Society has long-campaigned for an independent inquiry into the death of Mr Finucance. There has been a plethora of investigations and reports into the murder that have produced a growing body of evidence of official collusion. It is a fundamental principle that solicitors must be able to advise their clients without fear or interference.
"This inquiry should be held straight away under existing legislation. We are tired of successive governments' refusal to allow the truth about Patrick Finucane's murder to be known."
The Law Society regulates and represents the solicitors' profession in England and Wales and has a public interest role in working for reform of the law. Solicitors in Scotland and Northern Ireland are represented by the Law Societies in Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively.
Proposals to force the chairmen of public inquiries to avoid unnecessary costs were published by the British government today.
The measures - designed to stop inquiries spiralling out of control - came in the week the long-running Saville Inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday entered its final stages.
Lord Saville opened his inquiry at Derry's Guildhall in April 1998 and the final cost is estimated at £150 million.
The UK's Department for Constitutional Affairs today published its Inquiries Bill, which overhauls legislation dating back to 1871 and provides a "simple framework" for inquiries into matters of public concern such as rail crashes or police activities.
One clause in the Bill reads: "In making any decision as to the procedure or conduct of an inquiry, the chairman must have a regard to the need to avoid any unnecessary costs."
It adds: "Each decision to admit evidence, to hold oral hearings, or to allow legal representation adds to the cost of the inquiry.
"The requirement ... will strengthen the chairman's ability to defend decisions in which the need to limit costly elements of an inquiry was a factor."
The Bill also creates new powers for an inquiry chairman in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to compel people to give evidence.
Refusing to co-operate could lead to six months' imprisonment, rising to 51 weeks when powers already passed by Parliament to double magistrates' maximum sentencing powers come into force.
- Enough is Enough
The family of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, have said they cannot take part in the proposed inquiry into his murder under the terms published by the British government yesterday.
They pointed out that the 'Inquiries Bill' does not comply with the recommendations set out by British-appointed Judge Peter Cory.
Human rights solicitor Pat Finucane was gunned down in front of his family in their north Belfast home in February 1989 by the Ulster Freedom Fighters, working on behalf of (and in collusion with) the RUC Special Branch and the Force Research Unit of the British Army.
The Finucane family have released a press statement that says:
"This bill does not comply with the recommendations of Judge Cory.
The British Government agreed at Weston Park that "In the event that a public inquiry is recommended (by Cory) in any case, the relevant government will implement that recommendation".
Judge Cory recommended a public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Pat's murder and identified the "basic requirements" for a public inquiry. One of these requirements was stated to be that "the Tribunal should have full power to subpoena witnesses and documents together with all the powers usually exercised by a Commissioner in a public inquiry.
Clause 17 of the Bill is a wholesale departure from the Weston Park Agreement and the Cory Recommendation in that an inquiry established under this draft legislation will not have all the powers usually exercised by a Commissioner in a public inquiry since, it gives the Minister the power to determine when the inquiry sits in private and what material is to be withheld.
These are self-evidently amongst the most important powers exercised by inquiries.
Furthermore, this provision in the bill attacks the very independence of any such inquiry since it will not be vested with exclusive jurisdiction and control which is the very hallmark of independence.
In addition and in order to be truly independent the tribunal will have to be international in character and be composed of judges of standing equivalent to Judge Cory.
The Finucane family cannot take part in any inquiry established under these conditions.
We call upon all those who signed up to the Weston Park principles to ensure that they are fulfilled and that Judge Cory's recommendation is implemented in full."
On 23rd September 2004, British Secretary of State for 'Northern Ireland', Paul Murphy, finally announced that an inquiry into the 1989 murder of Pat Finucane would be established.
However, instead of announcing a public judicial inquiry under the Tribunal of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921, Paul Murphy stated that the inquiry would be held on the basis of new legislation to be introduced shortly to take account of "the requirements of national security".
He did this despite the fact that British-appointed Judge Peter Cory concluded that a public inquiry was "essential if the public confidence in the police, the army and the administration of justice is to be restored".
in the inquiry
By Peter Madden
Today is the 16th anniversary of the assassination of Pat Finucane. For 16 years, from the very night that Pat was murdered in 1989, his family has called for and campaigned for a public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding his murder.
Why did the campaign start immediately? Because we knew right away that there was collusion in his murder. For months before his murder, Pat was getting death threats from the RUC at Castlereagh interrogation centre.
Three weeks before his murder, Douglas Hogg, the British government Home Office minister, stated in the House of Commons that some solicitors were ‘unduly sympathetic' to the IRA. We knew he meant the solicitors who represented people accused in the Castlereagh interrogation centre of being members of the IRA.
Verbal and physical abuse from the RUC was a fact of life in those days. It had been going on for years. It was honed to perfection in Castlereagh, where people were abused in isolation for up to seven days without charge or release. There were no witnesses. There were cases of people being taken from Castlereagh for hospitalisation.
For months before his death, Pat recorded the threats to his life. I kept the record of these threats in a drawer in a filing cabinet in my office. I still have an image in my mind of Pat returning from Castlereagh, coming into my office when I was on the phone, nodding to me and pointed to the filing cabinet as he brought yet another recorded threat against him. I remember at the time that we both wondered what was going on, which was why we decided to collate these threats separately. These threats were also in our minds when Douglas Hogg made his infamous and still unsubstantiated statement. We now know that Hogg had been briefed by the RUC. Police commissioner John Stevens said that Hogg “was compromised”. He didn't elaborate.
The family was joined in its call for a public inquiry by senior political and church figures. Hogg's resignation was demanded.
Of course, Hogg didn't resign and, for 16 years, the British government has resisted the call for a public inquiry.
After 16 years of government delaying tactics accompanied by lobbying by the family and numerous legal proceedings, the British government has at long last announced that a public inquiry will be established.
But before a public inquiry will be established, the law will be changed so that the government will have total control of the information and of the inquiry itself. This is in stark contrast to the current law, where a tribunal controls all issues, including publication of material and private sittings.
The new law, The Inquiries Bill, which is currently going through the legislative process, will allow the government to prevent an inquiry panel from publishing material or ordering public sittings even if that panel wishes to do so.
However, even if the new law is passed, the British government is not off the hook as far as Pat's case is concerned because the government agreed in Weston Park to comply with the recommendations of the Canadian Supreme Court judge Peter Cory. The judge was appointed by the British and Irish governments to examine and report on a number of cases, including Pat's case.
At Weston Park, the British government agreed “that in the event that a public inquiry is recommended [by Cory] in any case, the relevant Government will implement that recommendation.”
Judge Cory recommended a public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Pat's murder and identified the “basic requirements” for a public inquiry. One of these requirements was stated to be that “the Tribunal should have full power to subpoena witnesses and documents together with all the powers usually exercised by a Commissioner in a public inquiry”.
The proposed new law does not comply with the recommendations of Judge Cory.
Clause 17 of the bill is a wholesale departure from the Weston Park agreement and the Cory recommendation is that an inquiry established under this draft legislation will not have all the powers usually exercised by a commissioner in a public inquiry because the minister would be given the power to determine when the inquiry would sit in private and what material would be withheld. These are self-evidently among the most important powers exercised by inquiries, which are the very powers the government intends to emasculate.
The Irish government has supported the Finucane family along with the nationalist political parties. Mitchell Reiss, the US government representative, is on record as calling on the British government to implement Judge Cory's recommendations.
The family has made clear that any public inquiry established has to be Cory Compliant. In other words, the family is calling on both governments to fulfil the terms of the Weston Park agreement as far as Pat's case is concerned and to ensure that the inquiry panel has control of its own inquiry.
The new legislation is not Cory Compliant. The British government is therefore in breach of the terms of the Weston Park agreement. We would expect the Irish government to require the British government to fulfil its obligations in that regard.
The British government will have to come up with some formula within the context of the proposed new law to make Pat's inquiry Cory Compliant.
The Finucane family cannot take part in an inquiry controlled by the British government because it was directly involved in Pat's murder.
In his summary report, Judge Cory said that papers relating to Pat Finucane were examined by the British cabinet.
Finally, as we told Tony Blair at a recent meeting with him, the inquiry panel, in order to be truly independent, has to be composed of reputable international legal figures of the same standing as Judge Cory himself.
We have to be satisfied that they will have the power to control the proceedings and not the British government.
We will have no chance of getting near the truth until these requirements are satisfied.
Peter Madden was Pat Finucane's partner in Madden and Finucane Solicitors.
wounds will never heal over
Sixteen years ago today, the kitchen of the Finucane home in north Belfast was the bloody scene of a murder that continues to haunt Geraldine Finucane, her family and the entire British political and security establishment.
The jury is currently out on whether the Finucane family will co-operate with the inquiry due to delve into the murky waters of collusion between loyalists and British military intelligence/RUC Special Branch.
Its terms are still being discussed in London and if they mean secrets will remain hidden from the tribunal, the Finucanes won't be having anything to do with it. But the family desperately wants an inquiry set up as soon as possible - before any more witnesses die or papers become “lost”.
“We're not naïve”, says Geraldine Finucane. “We know not everything will come out in public. But we do insist that the tribunal decides what's published and what isn't. Not some British minister or bureaucrat.
“We must have confidence in the terms of the inquiry. Not just for our own sakes but for the sake of the people of Ireland. We want to participate, but we won't settle for half measures”.
That clarity of purpose, and flinty determination, is typical of the woman who was herself shot in the foot on the day, 16 years ago, when her husband was murdered in front of her.
As blood flowed from her own wound, the stench of gunsmoke in her nostrils, knowing that Pat lay dead, she was told to get into an ambulance.
Geraldine Finucane, however, as we all now know, is no quitter and refused all medical help until her mother arrived to care for children John, Katherine and Michael (then aged eight, 12 and 17).
Geraldine wants to make it clear, though, that the past 16 years have not only been a struggle to vindicate her dead husband's memory. Her battle is also for all the dozens of other bereaved who are fighting for the truth about collusion.
“This is a very, very personal battle for us, because Pat was so precious to us, but we know we have another massive responsibility on our shoulders on behalf of others.” The British state doesn't like admitting its faults, she says, but if they can crack the Finucane case open, others will surely follow.
Although today is an anniversary of his death, it won't be “special”, she says. “I don't need an anniversary to think of Pat. There's not a day goes by that I don't think of him.”
She has learned to control her loss, however. “If I dwelled on what happened in the house that night, I'd go under. You can't afford to be too emotional”.
Although she had always suspected collusion in Pat Finucane's murder, it wasn't until the British/Irish Rights Watch report drew all the evidence together that her fears were backed with concrete facts.
“I said to myself ‘Oh my God. This was a policy. It wasn't just Pat. It affects everybody'”.
All of this was a million miles away when Geraldine first met Pat as a student at Trinity College, Dublin.
“We lived all over the city, north and south of the river. We were young and it was a wonderful time”, she says.
They married before they left college. She was from a Protestant background, he was a Catholic and, back home in Belfast, storm clouds were gathering.
Pat Finucane's youngest brother was aged just eight when the family was forced from their Falls Road home by a loyalist mob. Hard times force people to take a stand and Pat found his stand in the law.
“Pat saw what was happening. He was an intelligent man, the law could help people. It was a very simple thought.” Pat began a course at Queen's University, Geraldine taught English.
Pat then set up a law firm with a friend, Peter Madden. One of the young lawyer's most gratifying victories was in the case of Nora McCabe, a mother of three, murdered with a plastic bullet.
In 1981, Mrs McCabe was walking to buy cigarettes in west Belfast. She was struck on the head by a plastic bullet and died in hospital the following day from a fractured skull.
Pat Finucane obtained video evidence from a Canadian film crew that showed there had been no rioting. The inquest jury found that there was no evidence of any legitimate target and that Mrs McCabe was an innocent victim.
More than seventy MPs demanded a public inquiry. The McCabe family won compensation. The senior police officer involved was promoted. The rules on inquests were changed.
As Pat's reputation grew, he became an increasingly sharp thorn in the side of the British authorities especially after he won the acquittal of senior Belfast republican, and former hunger striker, Pat McGeown.
He also acted for the families of some of the shoot-to-kill victims of the 1980's that led to John Stalker, a senior Manchester police officer, investigating claims of a cover-up.
Before long, the threats began. The police would tell his clients that “You'll not be having Finucane as a solicitor for much longer”, and “We are going to get him” but, Geraldine says they were never really frightening.
Pat continued to love his work. “He didn't invent the law, but people weren't using it. They believed it wouldn't get them anywhere. All Pat did was to use the law. It was very exciting at the time to see ordinary people win cases, and the more cases they won, the more people began to come forward”.
Everything, however, changed for
the Finucanes in early 1989 when a junior British home office minister,
Douglas Hogg, told the House of Commons “that there are in Northern
Ireland a number of solicitors who are unduly sympathetic to the cause
of the IRA.”
Within four weeks Pat lay dead.
“The shooting was not the result of a ‘rogue unit' - it was a systematic and deliberate strategy of murder. This isn't now about Pat Finucane alone. Who knows how many others also died? They also need to lay their ghosts to rest”.
How high up the British chain of command does she think it went? “I think it could have gone right up to cabinet level. This went on for more than ten years. Those involved were promoted and given British royal honours”.
“There are some wounds that can be treated and will heal.
“Others are left to fester and cannot heal”, she says. “These cases of collusion must all be investigated thoroughly”.
Whether the truth will ever come to light is unknown. What is known, however, is that the Finucanes will be there to see it through.
Hearing criticises British attempts
The family of Belfast Human Rights lawyer Pat Finucane are in Washington to give evidence to a Congressional Hearing organized by Congressman Chris Smith on the ongoing attempts by the British Government to block the truth emerging surrounding his murder. There is widespread criticism of the British government's plans to hold any probe into the Finucane murder under the auspices of a new Inquiries Bill. The Bill will enable any inquiry to meet in large part in secret and will give government ministers powers to direct aspects of the inquiry.
Peter Cory, the Canadian judge who recommended a judicial inquiry into the 1989 murder of lawyer Pat Finucane has criticised British plans to restrict the information the probe can make public. Cory, a retired member of the Canadian Supreme Court, said legislation proposed by Britain to allow much of the probe into the death of Pat Finucane to be held in private and restrict evidence would make a meaningful inquiry impossible.
"It really creates an impossible Alice in Wonderland situation," said the judge in a letter to U.S. legislator Chris Smith, who is chairing an ad hoc Congressional committee looking at human rights in the north of Ireland.
"If the new act were to become law, I would advise all Canadian judges to decline an appointment in light of the impossible situation they would be facing," continued Cory's letter.
"In fact, I cannot contemplate any self-respecting Canadian judge accepting an appointment to an inquiry constituted under the proposed new act."
Congressman Chris Smith said proposals to hear some evidence in private would prevent an open inquiry into the 1989 murder of the solicitor Pat Finucane. Speaking on Radio Ulster's Inside Politics, Mr Smith said the government should give the Finucanes and other families what they had been promised.
"That is to have this public inquiry without this new legislation," he said. Mr Smith said this had been promised in the Weston Park talks of 2001.
The Taoiseach Bertie Ahern raised the issue with the US President at the White House on Thursday. Speaking afterwards Mr Ahern said that Mr Blair had made "a solemn agreement" at the Weston Park talks in 2001 that Canadian Judge Peter Cory would report on the matter.
"We agreed that whatever that report stated would be implemented," he said.
"The report, which he (Judge Cory) has reiterated at the Congressional hearings today is that there should be a full sworn inquiry and we have brought this up with the President.
"I have also asked him to raise this directly with Prime Minister Blair at an early date," said the Taoiseach.
"It is important for us to see that justice is done in every way and this is an outstanding issue since 1989," he said.
Peter Cory slams Finucane Inquiry legislation
In a letter addressed to the head of a US Congressional Committee Judge Peter Cory has slamed the current legislation which is intended to define the remit and scope of the inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane.
Judge Cory, who was appointed by the Irish and British governments at Weston Park to rule on public inquiries in a number of cases has today described the current situation as 'an intolerable Alice in Wonderland situation' and urged fellow Canadian judges to boycott any proposed inquiry should they be approached by the British Government.
In the letter to Congressman Chris Smith Judge Cory stated: "I cannot contemplate any self respecting Canadian judge accepting an appointment to an inquiry constituted under the new proposed act."
The full text of the letter is published below. Earlier today Geraldine Finucane and Mitchell Reiss gave evidence to the same congressional committee which received Judge Cory's letter (see above).
The Honorable Peter Cory C.C.,
Dear Chairman Smith
The proposed legislation pertaining to the public inquiries is unfortunate to say the least.
First, it must be remembered that when the Weston Park Accord was signed, the signatories would have had only one concept of a public inquiry. Namely, that it would be conducted pursuant to the 1921 Public Inquiry Act. Indeed, as an example the Bloody Sunday Inquiry would have commenced its work as a public inquiry by that time.
The families of the victims and the people of Northern Ireland would have thought that if a public Inquiry were to be directed it would be brought into existence pursuant to the1921 Public Inquiry Act.
To change the ground rules at this late date seems unfair. It seems as well unnecessary since the security of the realm would be ensured by the courts when the issue arose in a true public inquiry. My report certainly contemplated a true Public Inquiry constituted and acting pursuant to the provisions of the 1921 Act.
Further, it seems to me that the proposed new Act would make a meaningful inquiry impossible. The commissions would be working in an impossible situation. For example, the Minister, the actions of whose ministry was to be reviewed by the public inquiry would have the authority to thwart the efforts of the inquiry at every step. It really creates an intolerable Alice in Wonderland situation. There have been references in the press to an international judicial membership in the Inquiry. If the new Act were to become law, I would advise all Canadian judges to decline an appointment in light of the impossible situation they would be facing. In fact, I cannot contemplate any self respecting Canadian judge accepting an appointment to an inquiry constituted under the new proposed act.
The Honourable Peter Cory
must be transparent: envoy
The British government's inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane must be transparent and have the necessary power to publish the full truth, it was warned last night.
Mitchell Reiss, US envoy to Northern Ireland, expressed concern that the new legislation governing inquiries could potentially reduce the independence and transparency of an investigation into the murder.
It was also revealed last night that Canadian Judge Peter Cory said that an inquiry should not go ahead under the current legislation.
The human rights group, the Pat Finucane Centre, last night said that Judge Cory described the current situation as “Alice in Wonderland”.
Mr Finucane was murdered in February 1989 and his family is still fighting for the truth surrounding allegations of British military and police collusion.
Mr Reiss told an ad hoc committee on Northern Ireland human rights in Washington that, if the forthcoming inquiry was to receive the confidence of the Irish people, the Inquiries Act currently being considered by Parliament must have the power to reveal specific detail.
“Whatever legislative instrument is used, my concern is that the inquiry has the necessary legal powers to establish the truth of what happened in the Finucane case and that the process has the confidence of the people in Northern Ireland," he said.
“The chair and other members of the inquiry should be fully satisfied that the terms of reference will provide them with the authority necessary to establish the truth and to examine thoroughly the allegations of collusion highlighted by Judge Cory."
Judge Cory's conclusion that there was strong evidence of collusion by the army, the RUC and the security service prompted the British government to accept the need for an inquiry.
But by concealing various names in order to protect compromising prosecutions, the government has attracted widespread criticism.
“Public confidence requires as much transparency as possible, within the constraints of protecting lives and considerations of national security," Mr Reiss said.
"Judge Cory's report is eloquent on this point: 'Without public scrutiny, doubts based solely on myth and suspicion will linger long, fester and spread their malignant infection through the Northern Ireland community'."
After gunman Ken Barrett confessed to the Finucane murder last September, Secretary of State Paul Murphy announced that the government would establish an inquiry but that it would be based on this new legislation.
The Finucane family, as well as several human rights groups, have raised concerns about the provisions of the proposed Inquiries Act.
The Inquiries Bill: The Wrong
Here follows a joint statement by:
The above-listed organisations jointly express our concern over some of the provisions of the Inquiries Bill introduced into Parliament on 24th November 2004. The Bill, being discussed this week by a Standing Committee of the House of Commons, would, if enacted, alter fundamentally the system for establishing and running inquiries into issues of great public importance in the UK, including allegations of serious human rights violations. Should it be passed into law, the effect of the Bill on individuals and cases that merit a public inquiry would be highly detrimental. In particular, in those cases where one or more person has died or been killed, the right of their surviving family members to know the truth about what happened and to an effective investigation could be violated by the operation of the Bill.
The fundamental problem contained in the Inquiries Bill is its shift in emphasis towards inquiries established and largely controlled by government Ministers. This shift is achieved by the repeal of the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921 and the terms of several of the Bill’s clauses. These clauses grant broad powers to the Minister establishing an inquiry on issues such as the setting of the terms of reference, restrictions on funding for an inquiry, suspension or termination of an inquiry, restrictions on public access to inquiry proceedings and to evidence submitted to an inquiry, and restrictions on public access to the final report of an inquiry. The Bill does not grant the independence to inquiry chairs and panels that has made their role so crucial in examining issues, particularly where public confidence has been undermined.
Several of us have already laid out our concerns about the Bill in earlier statements and briefings and we are pleased to note that some amendments to the Bill have already been adopted in the House of Lords. However, we continue to have serious concerns about the Bill in its current form and we urge all members of Parliament to take these concerns into account in their ongoing consideration of the Bill. We also wish to draw attention to the views expressed on this matter by the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, by the Public Administration Select Committee, and by two notable jurists, namely Lord Saville of Newdigate and former Canadian Supreme Court justice Judge Peter Cory.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights has concluded that several provisions of the Bill may not be compliant with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights in that they would inhibit an effective investigation into cases involving deaths. For example, the Committee has expressed concern that “the threat of withdrawal of funding by the Minister could unduly constrain the independence of an inquiry, and fail to satisfy the Article 2 requirement of an independent inquiry.” The Committee has further stated that “the independence of a tribunal is secured both by the institutional and legal structure in which it operates, and by the restraint and impartiality exercised in practice by those involved. Even given the proper restraint by Ministers in the exercise of powers considered above, their availability in respect of an inquiry would risk affecting its independence, both actual and perceived.” With particular regard to the power of Ministers to issue restriction notices, the Committee concluded that “the independence of an inquiry is put at risk by ministerial power to issue these restrictions, and … this lack of independence may fail to satisfy the Article 2 obligation to investigate…” It also was concerned that the ministerial power to withhold publication of all or part of an inquiry report is “wide enough to compromise the independence of an inquiry.”
The Public Administration Select Committee also criticised many facets of the Inquiries Bill, in its report following its inquiry into “Government by Inquiry”. In particular, the Committee expressed concern about Ministers conducting inquiries into their own or their department’s actions.
Published correspondence between Lord Saville, who chairs the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, and DCA Minister Baroness Ashton relating to the Bill is also of great importance, as it demonstrates the serious reservations of a senior judge and chair of a complex current inquiry. In particular, Lord Saville is concerned about the clause granting Ministers the power to issue notices restricting public access to inquiry proceedings and materials. In a letter of 26th January, Lord Saville states, “I take the view that this provision makes a very serious inroad into the independence of any inquiry and is likely to damage or destroy public confidence in the inquiry and its findings, especially in cases where the conduct of the authorities may be in question.” He further stated that neither he nor his fellow judges on the BSI would be prepared to be appointed as a member of an inquiry that was subject to a provision of that kind. Despite the addition in the House of Lords of a clause setting out a presumption of public access to inquiry proceedings, restriction notices issued by Ministers could still result in secret inquiries that would, as feared by Lord Saville, be “likely to damage or destroy public confidence in the inquiry and its findings, especially in cases where the conduct of the authorities may be in question.”
On 15th March, 2005, Judge Peter Cory, a retired Canadian Supreme Court justice who was appointed by the British and Irish governments in 2002 to investigate allegations of state collusion in six controversial murder cases, wrote a letter expressing his own fears about the potential effects of the Inquiries Bill. He described the Bill as “unfortunate to say the least” and with specific reference to the case of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane stated, “It seems to me that the proposed new Act would make a meaningful inquiry impossible.” Judge Cory noted that “the Minister, the actions of whose ministry was to be reviewed by the public inquiry would have the authority to thwart the efforts of the inquiry at every step” and he concluded that he “cannot contemplate any self respecting Canadian judge accepting an appointment to an inquiry constituted under the new proposed act”.
We agree with all of these views and urge Parliament to take them very seriously. An inquiry held under the Bill as currently drafted would not be effective, independent, impartial or thorough, nor would the evidence presented to it be subject to sufficient public scrutiny. Such an inquiry would fall far short of the requirement of international human rights law that an effective remedy be provided to the victims of human rights violations. Moreover, the passage of the Inquiries Bill in its current form would do great harm to the tradition of public inquiries in the UK and would undermine the important principles of accountability and transparency. In order to command public confidence, it is absolutely necessary that an inquiries system permit close independent public scrutiny and provide for the active participation of the relevant victims. The Inquiries Bill does not do this.
widow urges judges to shun inquiry
Geraldine Finucane, widow of the murdered Northern Ireland human rights solicitor Patrick Finucane, has written to all senior judges in England, Wales and Scotland, asking them to refuse to sit on any inquiry into her husband's death under new legislation.
Lord Saville, who chaired the Bloody Sunday inquiry, has criticised the Inquiries Act 2005, which allows ministers to issue notices stopping certain evidence from being given in public and restricting publication in the public interest.
The act replaces the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921 which gives chairmen a free hand.
Lord Saville has told Baroness Ashton, minister in the department of constitutional affairs, in a letter: "This provision makes a very serious inroad into the independence of any inquiry; and is likely to damage or destroy public confidence in the inquiry and its findings, especially in any case where the conduct of the authorities may be in question.
"As a judge, I must tell you that I would not be prepared to be appointed as a member of an inquiry that was subject to a provision of this kind."
The Canadian judge Peter Cory was appointed by the British and Irish governments to investigate allegations of collusion in Mr Finucane's murder. He concluded in 2003 that there was "strong evidence that collusive acts were committed" by the army, the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the security service, and that a public inquiry was needed.
A British government official told the UN Commission for Human Rights in Geneva last week that a public inquiry would be held into Mr Finucane's murder, but that most witnesses would give evidence in private.
However, Judge Cory told the US Congressional hearings into human rights in Northern Ireland last month, before the act became law: "It seems to me that the proposed new act would make a meaningful inquiry impossible. The minister, the actions of whose ministry was to be reviewed by the public inquiry, would have the authority to thwart the efforts of the inquiry at every step.
"It really creates an intolerable Alice in Wonderland situation. There have been references in the press to an international judicial membership in the inquiry.
"If the new act were to be come law, I would advise all Canadian judges to decline an appointment in light of the impossible situation they would be facing. In fact, I cannot contemplate any self-respecting Canadian judge accepting an appointment to an inquiry constituted under the new proposed act," he said.
In her letter, Mrs Finucane cites the views of Lord Saville and Judge Cory and asks the judges: "In view of these considerations I write to request that, if approached to serve on an Inquiries Act Inquiry into my husband's murder, you, like Lord Saville and Judge Cory, refuse to accept such an appointment."
Lorna Davidson, of British Irish Rights Watch, said: "The minister can prevent particular witnesses' evidence from being given in public and any evidence could be expunged from the final report.
"The fear is that any witnesses who might say anything remotely damaging or controversial might be heard in private, so we'd never get to know what they actually said."
A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Office said: "The government is clear that the Inquiries Act provides the best way for a Finucane inquiry to proceed efficiently and effectively in a way which takes into account both the wider public interest and the public interest in national security.
"Absolutely nothing will be withheld from the person chairing the inquiry or the inquiry team."
from Geraldine Finucane
On Sunday 12 February 1989 my husband Pat was murdered in front of our children and me.
In June 2002 Judge Peter Cory was appointed by the British and Irish Governments to "conduct a thorough investigation of allegations of collusion by the security forces" in my husband's murder.
Judge Cory's letter of appointment (reflecting the Weston Park Agreement) stated:
"In the event that a public inquiry is recommended … the … government will implement that recommendation".
In my husband's case Judge Cory concluded:
"There is strong evidence that collusive acts were committed by the army (FRU), the RUC SB and the Security Service. I am satisfied that there is a need for a public inquiry".
Judge Cory made it clear (as para.1.294 of his report) that when he spoke of a "public inquiry" he took that term to encompass "certain essential characteristics" which included independence and full powers to subpoena witnesses and documents together with all the powers usually exercised by a Commissioner in a public inquiry. Judge Cory's conclusions were delivered to the government in October 2003.
Despite the clarity of his recommendations and the judgment of the European Court which found that the government had, in breach of Article 2 ECHR, failed promptly and effectively to investigate Pat's murder, the government failed to establish an inquiry as recommended.
In a statement to Parliament on 1 April 2004 the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Paul Murphy, said:
"… The inquiries will have the full powers of the High Court to compel witnesses and papers. The powers are the same as those granted to inquiries set up under the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921, under which the Bloody Sunday inquiry operates. …" [Emphasis added]
Despite the undertaking given by the government to Parliament to implement the Cory recommendation in full, the government has now enacted the Inquiries Act 2005. The provisions of that Act clearly fall far short of the Cory recommendations. Indeed Judge Cory himself has said:
"It seems to me that the proposed new Act would make a meaningful inquiry impossible. The Commissions would be working in an impossible situation. For example, the Minister, the actions of whose ministry was to be reviewed by the public inquiry would have the authority to thwart the efforts of the inquiry at every step. It really creates an intolerable Alice in Wonderland situation. There have been references in the press to an international judicial membership in the inquiry. If the new Act were to become law, I would advise all Canadian Judges to decline an appointment in light of the impossible situation they would be facing. In fact, I cannot contemplate any self-respecting Canadian Judge accepting an appointment to an inquiry constituted under the new proposed Act".
The Chairman of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, Lord Saville of Newdigate, has expressed similar concerns:
"I take the view that this provision makes a very serious inroad into the independence of any inquiry; and is likely to damage or destroy public confidence in the inquiry and its findings, especially in any case where the conduct of the authorities may be in question.
As a Judge, I must tell you that I would not be prepared to be appointed as a member of an inquiry that was subject to a provision of this kind.
I have shown the provision in question to … William Hoyt (formerly Chief Justice of the Canadian Province of New Brunswick) and John Toohey (formerly a Justice of the High Court of Australia). Both have told me that they too would not be prepared to accept appointment to an inquiry that was subject to a provision of this kind …".
The Irish Times reported on 14 March 2005 that Lord Saville's concerns are shared by Lord Woolf, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales.
In view of these considerations I write to request that, if approached to serve on an Inquiries Act Inquiry into my husband's murder, you, like Lord Saville and Judge Cory refuse to accept such an appointment.
I look forward to hearing from you.
appeal calling on judges to boycott sham inquiries
Amnesty International has launched an online appeal asking people worldwide to write to senior UK judges, urging that neither they nor other judges sit on any public inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 into the murder of Belfast lawyer Patrick Finucane.
An inquiry under the 2005 Act, railroaded through Parliament on the last possible day before it was dissolved for the election, would lack independence and be largely controlled by the executive, says Amnesty International.
The final report of any inquiry under the Act would be published at the executive’s discretion and crucial evidence could be omitted at the executive’s discretion, "in the public interest".
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said: "Any judge presiding over an inquiry into the Finucane murder under the Inquiries Act 2005 would be presiding over a sham. We urge judges not to sit on any such inquiry.
"By rushing through this Act, the government has placed itself beyond public scrutiny and dealt a massive blow to any hopes of transparency in government.
"Under the Inquiries Act 2005, there will be no more independent, public inquiries like those into the Ladbroke Grove train crash, the murder of Stephen Lawrence or the tragedy at Hillsborough.
"The government will be able to control what the public finds out, and what it doesn’t."
Patrick Finucane, an outspoken human rights lawyer, was shot dead in his home in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on 12 February 1989 by Loyalist paramilitaries.
In the aftermath of his killing, prima facie evidence of criminal conduct by police and military intelligence agents acting in collusion with Loyalist paramilitaries in his murder emerged.
In addition, allegations have emerged of a subsequent cover-up by different government agencies and authorities.
In April 2004, an independent report, commissioned by the UK and Irish governments concluded that "only a public inquiry will suffice" in Patrick Finucane’s case.
Geraldine Finucane, Patrick Finucane’s widow, has called on all senior judges in England, Wales and Scotland not to serve on an inquiry into her husband’s case held under the new legislation.
Amnesty International calls on the UK authorities to establish a truly independent judicial inquiry into collusion by state agents with Loyalist paramilitaries in Patrick Finucane’s murder; into reports that his killing was the result of state policy; and into allegations that different government authorities played a part in the subsequent cover-up of collusion in his murder.
The appeal asks supporters to write to Lord Bingham, Senior Law Lord; Lord Woolf, Lord Chief Justice; and Lord Cullen, Lord President of the Supreme Court in Scotland, urging that neither they nor other judges in their jurisdiction sit on an inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005.
Appeals will also be sent to the heads of the judiciary in countries with a common law system who might also be approached to sit on such an inquiry, such as Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the USA, South Africa, Sri Lanka and India.
Under the Inquiries Act 2005:
Lord Saville of Newdigate, the chair of the Bloody Sunday Tribunal of Inquiry, pointed out that the Inquiries Act 2005 "makes a very serious inroad into the independence of any inquiry; and is likely to damage or destroy public confidence in the inquiry and its findings".
Lord Saville also said: "As a Judge, I must tell you that I would not be prepared to be appointed as a member of an inquiry that was subject to a provision of this kind."
Take action - write an appeal to the three senior UK judges. You can base your appeals on the letter below. You can copy and paste this sample letter into an e-mail or a document to print out:
Dear Lord [add salutation],
I am writing to express my concern over the UK government’s stated intention to hold an inquiry into Patrick Finucane’s case under the Inquiries Act 2005.
As you may know, more than 16 years after the killing of Patrick Finucane - an outspoken human rights lawyer - by Loyalist paramilitaries with the alleged collusion of police and military agents, the UK government continues to refuse to hold a truly independent public inquiry into these allegations. The Inquiries Act 2005 empowers the UK authorities to block public scrutiny of state actions and undermines the independence of the judiciary. Any inquiry held under such legislation would fall far short of international human rights standards. Amnesty International considers that any judge sitting on such an inquiry would be presiding over a sham.
Geraldine Finucane, Patrick Finucane’s widow, has recently called on all senior judges in England, Wales and Scotland not to serve on an inquiry into her husband’s case held under this new legislation.
In light of the above, I urge you to ensure that all members of the judiciary in your jurisdiction are made aware of these extremely serious concerns.
Amnesty International is urging those members of the judiciary who may be approached by the UK authorities to sit on an inquiry into the Finucane case held under the Inquiries Act 2005 to decline to do so.
I thank you in advance for your urgent attention to the concerns expressed in this letter.
Please send appeals to:
Lord Bingham of Cornhill
The Rt. Hon. The Lord
The Rt. Hon. The Lord
Cullen of Whitekirk
family's anger after Hain meeting
Murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane's family today pledged to take their fight to Dublin after accusing Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain of resisting demands for major changes to the inquiry into his killing.
The lawyer's wife Geraldine and son Michael were left angered by their meeting with Mr Hain, claiming the British government wants to cloak the tribunal in secrecy.
"The Secretary of State had every chance in the world to be useful and play a useful role," Michael Finucane said.
"All the indications are that he's not willing to do that and neither is the government he represents.
"The only option we have is going to the other Government who's a partner in this process and getting Bertie Ahern to change Tony Blair's mind."
Mr Finucane was assassinated by loyalist paramilitaries at his north Belfast home 17 years ago.
Both a retired Canadian Supreme Court judge and former Scotland Yard chief Sir John Stevens detected enough evidence of security force collaboration with the Ulster Defence Association men involved.
Their findings, which supported a campaign by the Finucanes, saw the Government propose setting up an official hearing into the allegations.
But the family rejected the arrangements, claiming the Inquiries Act passed to run the probe would allow the authorities to keep crucial material undisclosed.
Mr Finucane and his mother were joined by Jane Winter, director of the British Irish Rights Watch, for the 45-minute meeting with Mr Hain at Stormont Castle, east Belfast.
Human rights organisations have joined Judge Peter Cory, who probed the collusion claims, in expressing concerns at how the authorities plan to run the inquiry.
"He (Mr Hain) consistently underlined the (British) government's intention to hold the inquiry under the Inquiries Act," Mr Finucane revealed.
"It renders the panel devoid of independence and retains control with the government minister through use of restriction notices.
"Therefore we doubt its capacity to get at the truth."
Mr Finucane also claimed the plans were centred around pacifying the intelligence services.
He added: "The situation appears to be the tail wagging the dog."
family accuse Hain of protecting security services
The family of Pat Finucane last night accused Secretary of State Peter Hain of attempting to protect the security services from an independent inquiry into the solicitor’s murder.
In April 2004 retired Canadian judge Peter Cory, who had been appointed by the British and Irish governments to examine allegations of security force collusion in six murders, recommended an independent inquiry into Mr Finucane’s murder.
However, the British government announced it would only allow an investigation into Mr Finucane’s murder under specially introduced legislation, known as the Inquiries Act.
Any inquiry under that act is subject to a government minister determining what evidence can be heard and what can be withheld.
The decision was criticised by the solicitor’s family, nationalist parties, the Irish government, judge Cory and Bloody Sunday Inquiry judge Lord Saville.
The Finucane family met with the secretary of state yesterday at Stormont Castle to voice their concerns.
In what was described as a “frank and robust” meeting, Geraldine Finucane accused Mr Hain of allowing the security services to dictate the terms of any future inquiry.
“What was very evident in the meeting was that the government could not rely on the cooperation of their security forces and that is a major concern for us,” she said.
“We told him that he had broken the promises which were made at Weston Park.
“Because the British government do not seem to want to find a way through the logjam, we are now going to go back to the other partner at Weston Park, which is the Irish government.”
Mr Finucane’s son Michael said that the secretary of state had claimed that a restricted inquiry was necessary if the government was to receive proper cooperation from the security services.
“The principle reaction of the government is that an inquiry, under the Inquiries Act, is the only way to get to the truth, or so they would have us believe,” he said.
“However, the distinct impression that we got from the meeting with the secretary of state was that the government’s prime objective is to pander to the security services in quite a disturbing way.
“It’s not to in any way reassure or facilitate or encourage victims, either my family or other victims of collusion, but is to safeguard the interests of the security services and the intelligence establishment.
“That is not only clear but is also worryingly clear.”
Reasserting his family’s refusal to support such an inquiry, he said: “The government wants us to give them our trust and we simply won’t do that because we’ve been betrayed and upset so many times in the past that they have no credibility in the bank.”
Mr Finucane said that the secretary of state had refused to accept his family’s assertion that an independent inquiry was the only way to find the truth surrounding his father’s murder.
“He seems to agree that an inquiry without the endorsement or approval of the Finucane family would be a lesser inquiry,” he said.
“He wouldn’t quite agree that it was pointless.
“But it seems he cannot be convinced that such an inquiry wouldn’t be viewed as anything other than a government-controlled investigation.”
“It can’t be emphasised enough the extent to which the secretary of state went to explain the need for cooperation from the security services and the intelligence establishment.
“This inquiry is all about
doing it on terms which are acceptable to the very establishment responsible
for murder and collusion.”
“The secretary of state undertook to reflect on the points Mrs Finucane made.”
Michael Finucane said that his family would now ask Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to intercede with Prime Minister Tony Blair.
“They are under a legal obligation to hold an inquiry and certainly they made that commitment at Weston Park in 2001.
“But an inquiry must be meaningful, it must at least be capable of holding the public’s confidence and the simple fact of the matter is that an Inquiries Act inquiry, with a government controlled mechanism, has nobody’s confidence.”
Asked whether the Finucane family’s refusal to support a restricted inquiry could see government delay a probe into the case, he said: “I think if they tried to do that it would be seen as the disingenuous, cynical exercise that it was.”
Last night both Sinn Fein and the SDLP criticised the government’s refusal to hold an independent inquiry into Mr Finucane’s murder.
knew of threat to Finucanes
Police Special Branch was aware of a UDA plot to kill the family of Pat Finucane but failed to inform them of the threat, The Irish News has learned.
Senior NIO sources last night confirmed that Special Branch had been alerted that the UDA in north Belfast planned to murder members of the family in summer 2003.
However, despite evidence of a murder plot Special Branch failed to inform the Finucanes that their lives were in danger.
It is understood that:
• the family only learned of the UDA plot through a third party
• when the Finucanes questioned the NIO about the threat, Special Branch denied being aware of any danger
• the security forces only admitted knowledge of the threat following the intervention of the Irish government
• the murdered solicitor's family were put on the key persons protection scheme following confirmation that their lives were under threat.
The UDA murder plot came at a time when retired Canadian Judge Peter Cory was actively investigating allegations of security force collusion in Mr Finucane’s 1989 murder.
An NIO spokesman last night refused
to explain why police had failed to inform the Finucanes that their
lives were under threat.
On Monday the family are due to hold talks for the first time with Democratic Unionist leader Ian Paisley at Stormont.
on family continues its search for truth
Cory probed the high-profile murder of Pat Finucane, targeted simply because of his politics and clients, and found sinister forces at the heart of the British system
Yesterday marked the 17th anniversary of Pat Finucane’s murder. Judge Peter Cory’s independent review of the murder was published in April 2004. Based on his findings, Judge Cory recommended a full public inquiry into the affair. The British government promised to implement any recommendations made by Judge Cory but has since reneged on its commitment. It has claimed that a public inquiry cannot be held for reasons of “national security”. Below we publish verbatim edited extracts from Judge Cory’s 2004 report.
Events at Patrick Finucane’s home
1.15: On the evening of 12 February 1989, Patrick Finucane, his wife Geraldine and their three children were having dinner in the kitchen. Around 7.25pm Geraldine heard a noise coming from the front door. Her husband jumped up from the table and she jumped up behind him. He opened the kitchen door and, as they both looked down the hall, she saw one figure walking towards them. The intruder was masked and she believed that he held a gun in his left hand, although she was not sure about this. The man was dressed in black and he seemed to be wearing black gauntlets which covered his arms. He had a green combat jacket which was tied at the waist. She didn’t see anyone else.
She moved behind her husband to hit the alarm button, which was located behind the kitchen door. As she did that, she could see her husband closing the kitchen door. Then the shooting started and it was very fast at first.
She landed up against the dining-room door, her hands over her head. She said there were more shots, very slow and deliberate.
When the shots stopped, her husband was lying on the floor on his back and the man had left. She went to the hall but there was no one there. She had been shot in the ankle, probably as a result of a ricocheting bullet. Despite her wound and the trauma of this horrifying event, she had the presence of mind to call for the police.
1.16: The autopsy report confirmed that Patrick Finucane was a 39-year-old male. He had been shot six times in the head, three times in the neck and three times in the torso. Any of the wounds to the head, the neck, or the torso would have been fatal.
The association of lawyers with their clients who were PIRA members
1.256: Documents reveal the extent to which Special Branch believed that solicitors representing members of PIRA were, themselves, either members of the organisation or “republican sympathisers”. […] It may be significant that SB chose to maintain a personal file on Patrick Finucane, who appears to have been a law-abiding citizen. The file contained various documents, including source reports, news clippings and correspondence.
What is most striking is that Patrick Finucane is repeatedly identified as a “republican sympathiser”; “an extreme republican sympathiser [who] represents PIRA members who face terrorist charges”; and an individual who “comes from a staunchly republican family”.
These descriptions permeate the file, and are seen on documents dating back to 1979. The file records various activities that were legitimately undertaken by Patrick Finucane in his capacity as a citizen, a lawyer and a supporter of human rights. He is implicitly criticised for taking a “keen interest in the welfare of PIRA prisoners” during the hunger strikes, and for being a member of organisations such as the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association.
1.257: The attitude of Special Branch toward the work of solicitors in general, and Patrick Finucane in particular, is also evident in the briefing given to MP Douglas Hogg. This led to his comments in the House of Commons on 17 January 1989. He then spoke opposing a proposed amendment to a bill which would allow solicitors access to information concerning terrorist investigations in certain limited circumstances. During the debates, Mr Hogg, relying upon the briefing he had received from SB, asserted: “I have to state as a fact, but with great regret, that there are in Northern Ireland a number of solicitors who are unduly sympathetic to the cause of the IRA…”
1.258: In statements made some years later, Mr Hogg indicated that his comments in the House had been based on advice received from senior police officials, including a briefing by the Special Branch in November 1988.
This briefing was attended by the chief constable and deputy chief constable of the RUC, as well as other senior officers.
According to Mr Hogg, the message conveyed was that there were a half dozen or so solicitors who were “effectively in the pockets of terrorists” and that such solicitors were “defending the organisation rather than the individual”.
1.259: When Mr Hogg asked for a concrete example, Special Branch sent him documents identifying Patrick Finucane. […]
Obstructions placed in the path of the Stevens inquiries: Whether they reveal an attitude and course of conduct that should be taken into account in determining whether they were acts of collusion
1.269: I have reviewed a document which would appear to lend strong support to the allegation that RUC SB and FRU [Force Research Unit] consciously set out to withhold pertinent information from the Stevens inquiries. It sets out the minutes of various meetings attended by senior officials, including the former GOC NI (general officer commanding, Northern Ireland). This document confirms that the GOC NI had discussed the Stevens inquiry with the chief constable of the RUC before the inquiry team even arrived in the province. The document states that: “The CC [chief constable] had decided that the Stevens inquiry would have no access to intelligence documents or information, nor the units supplying them” […]
1.270: The wilful concealment of pertinent evidence, and the failure to co-operate with the Stevens inquiry, can be seen as further evidence of the unfortunate attitude that then persisted within RUC SB and FRU — namely, that they were not bound by the law and were above and beyond its reach.
These documents reveal that government agencies (the army and RUC) were prepared to participate jointly in collusive acts in order to protect their perceived interests. Ultimately the relevance and significance of this matter should be left for the consideration of those who may be called upon to preside at a public inquiry.
Summary of collusive acts
1.283: The following matters are relevant in considering whether FRU engaged in collusive acts:
a. Did FRU have advance knowledge that Patrick Finucane was being targeted by the UDA [Ulster Defence Association]?
1.284: The documents clearly raise questions as to whether or not FRU knew, in advance, that the UDA was planning to target and kill Patrick Finucane. There are conflicts in the documentary evidence that can only be resolved at a public hearing. […]
1.285: If [Brian] Nelson is correct in stating that he told his handlers that Patrick Finucane was a target, and no steps were taken by FRU to either warn Patrick Finucane or otherwise intervene, then that would be capable of constituting a collusive act. This follows, as it would mean that FRU had turned a blind eye to the threat against Patrick Finucane, notwithstanding that the information came from someone that they considered to be an outstanding agent. Only a public inquiry can determine whether this occurred. The evidence I have seen warrants the holding of a public inquiry on this issue.
b. Passing of information to Nelson by handlers
1.286: The CFs [contact forms] and TCFs [telephone contact forms] – the records kept in the usual and ordinary course of the business of FRU – leave little doubt that, on occasion, handlers provided information to Nelson that facilitated his targeting activities. While there is no indication that handlers provided information that specifically pertained to Patrick Finucane, this breach of policy is significant, as it demonstrates a general pattern of behaviour on the part of Nelson’s handlers that could be considered collusive. They were aware that Nelson was a central player within the UDA and that he had considerable influence in directing targeting operations.
They were also aware that Nelson often played a direct and active role in reconnaissance missions. The provision of information to Nelson in these circumstances may be seen as evidence of collusive behaviour that had the potential to facilitate the deadly operations planned by the UDA.
c. Failure to restrain Nelson’s criminal activities
1.287: There can be no doubt that Nelson, by his own admission, committed criminal acts. He entered pleas of guilty to 20 terrorist-related crimes, including five separate instances of conspiracy to murder. Even more importantly, the CFs and TCFs reveal that the army handlers were aware, or at the very least, most certainly ought to have been aware, of the criminal acts of Nelson. Little or no effort was taken to prohibit or discourage Nelson from committing criminal acts. It is apparent from some of the CFs that the handlers were more concerned with Nelson’s security, and avoiding police detection, than they were with stopping his criminal activity. The documents I have examined disclose that army handlers and their superiors turned a blind eye to the criminal acts of Nelson. In doing this, they established a pattern of behaviour that could be characterised as collusive.
d. Evidence given at Nelson’s trial
1.288: The evidence given by the CO [commanding officer] FRU, (Soldier “J”) at Nelson’s trial could only be described as misleading. The statement that Nelson’s actions were responsible for saving close to 217 lives was based on a highly dubious numerical analysis that cannot be supported on any basis. The troubling evidence given at Nelson’s trial, coupled with FRU’s knowledge of his criminal activities, is part of the cumulative picture that should be examined in determining whether FRU acted collusively in the murder of Patrick Finucane.
e. FRU collusion
1.289: The documents either in themselves or taken cumulatively can be taken to indicate that FRU committed acts of collusion. Further, there is strong if, in some instances, conflicting documentary evidence that FRU committed collusive acts. Only a public inquiry can resolve the conflict.
ii. The security service
1.290: Much of the work of the security service is not relevant to my inquiry. However, the agent operations that the security service ran in Northern Ireland did give rise to conduct that appears to fall within the definition of collusion.
a. In 1981, the security service was aware that the UDA had plans to kill Patrick Finucane and that the threat was both very real and very imminent. After consultation with security service officers from the Joint Security Service/SIS [Secret Intelligence Service] section present, RUC SB decided to take no steps to intervene or halt the attack.
b. In 1985, the security service was aware that a leading loyalist paramilitary considered Patrick Finucane to be a priority target.
c. In December 1988, just seven weeks before the murder, the security service received information from an agent that there were plans afoot to kill various targets, and that the UDA had singled out Patrick Finucane for special attention. Once again, no action was taken to warn Patrick Finucane or to intervene in any way.
1.291: The apparent failure of the security service to suggest to RUC SB that action should be taken on these threats might, itself, be capable of constituting collusive action. At the very least, these matters add to the cumulative pattern of conduct demonstrated by the relevant government agencies and should be considered in the context of a public inquiry.
iii. RUC Special Branch
1.292: In my view, the following conduct of the RUC SB is directly relevant to the question of collusion:
a. Failure to act on known threats
In 1981, no action had been taken in connection with a direct threat against Patrick Finucane. Rather, the protection of agent security was seen as more important than saving the life of a person who faced a serious and imminent threat. Similarly through its agent William Stobie, RUC SB was aware that, just five days before the Finucane murder, a top UDA official had asked Stobie to provide a nine-millimetre Browning pistol for a “hit on a top PIRA man”. This information was not apparently pursued.
b. Failure to follow up on the Browning pistol
Just three days after the murder, Stobie reported that he had been asked by the same UDA official to pick up and hide a nine-millimetre Browning. No steps were taken to recover or trace this weapon, although there was every reason to believe that it was the firearm used to kill Patrick Finucane. The failure to act on information received in 1989, both before and after the Finucane murder, is indicative of collusion and should be the subject of inquiry at a public hearing.
c. The intelligence and threats books
As a general rule, the intelligence and threats books reveal that RUC SB failed to record or act upon intelligence information coming from FRU. Similarly, they indicate that SB rarely took any steps to document threats or prevent attacks by the UDA, whereas proactive steps were routinely taken in connection with PIRA and other republican threats. The failure to issue warnings to persons targeted by the UDA often led to tragic consequences. This is indicative of attitudes within RUC SB. It also constitutes a pattern of conduct that could be equated with collusive behaviour.
demands full public inquiry for Finucane
Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD has welcomed today's All-Party Dáil motion calling on the British government to fulfil its commitment to hold a full public inquiry into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane. The motion is signed by party leaders in the Dáil including Deputy Ó Caoláin, the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, the Tánaiste Mary Harney, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Labour leader Pat Rabbitte.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said: "All-party motions of any kind are a rarity in the Oireachtas and today's motion is highly significant and shows the strength of support for the Finucane family in their demand for a full inquiry as required by Judge Peter Cory. By refusing to hold such an inquiry the British government is in breach of its own commitments given at the Weston Park talks.
"The main obstacle to an inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane is the British government's insistence that it must be held under the odious Inquiries Act, which would give a British minister the power of veto over the evidence given, the duration of the inquiry and the final report. Pressure must be brought to bear on the British government to repeal that Act.
"The Taoiseach should now use this Dáil motion as part of an international effort to bring attention to this anti-human rights legislation and to press the case for an inquiry. The Finucane case and the issue of collusion in general should be raised in a systematic way by the Irish government at EU and UN level.
"As a follow-on to this motion the Taoiseach should call a special summit meeting with Tony Blair devoted exclusively to the single issue of collusion between British state forces and loyalist gangs, collusion that led directly to many deaths throughout this island."
Full motion follows:
Motion calling for independent inquiry in to murder of Pat Finucane
That Dáil Éireann,
recalling the brutal murder of solicitor, Patrick Finucane, at his home in Belfast on 12th February, 1989;
— noting the on-going allegations of collusion between loyalist paramilitaries and British security forces in the murder of Mr. Finucane;
— recalling the commitments made at the Weston Park talks in July 2001 by the British Government to hold a public inquiry into the Finucane case, if so recommended by the Honourable Judge Peter Cory, it being clearly understood that such an inquiry would be held under the UK Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921;
— noting that Judge Cory found sufficient evidence of collusion to warrant a public inquiry into the case and recommended that such an inquiry take place without delay;
— recalling that in his conclusions, Judge Cory set out the necessity and imporan of a public inquiry into this case and that the failure to hold a public inquiry as quickly as reasonably possible could be seen as a denial of the agreement at Weston Park;
— noting that the limited form of inquiry under the UK Inquiries Act 2005, proposed by the British Government has been rejected as inadequate by Judge Cory, the Finucane family, the Government and human rights groups;
— commends the Finucane family for their courageous campaign to seek the truth in this case of collusion;
— deeply regrets the British Government's failure to honour its commitment to implement Judge Cory's recommenadation in full;
— welcomes the sustained support of successive Governments and all parties for the Finucane family over the past decade in their efforts to find the truth behind the murder;
— acknowledges the work of the Oireachtas sub-Committee on Human Rights in highlighting this case;
— welcomes the Taoiseach's commitment and efforts in pursuing the case with the British Prime Minister Tony Blair;
— endorses the Government's international efforts at highlighting the case in the U.S., at the United Nations and at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg;
— calls on the British Government to reconsider its position on the Finucane case to take full account of the family's objections and amend the UK Inquiries and
— calls for the immediate establishment of a full, independent, public judicial inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane, as recommended by Judge Cory, which would enjoy the full co-operation of the in family and the wider community throughout Ireland and abroad.''
— An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern; An Tánaiste agus an tAire Sláinte agus Leanai, Mary Harney; Leader of Fine Gael, Enda Kenny; Leader of the Labour Party, Pat Rabbitte; Leader of the Green Party, Trevor Sargent; Leader of Sinn Féin, Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin.
govt on Fincucane public inquiry
The British Government has conceded it could suppress findings of a public inquiry into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.
The argument of protecting national security could be used to hold back publication of the full report of the inquiry, the Northern Ireland Office said.
The admission came after Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern told the Dublin parliament that the British Government was pressing ahead with the setting up on an inquiry into the murder of Mr Finucane under the controversial Inquiries Act despite widespread opposition.
The Finucane family, the Irish parliament, human rights groups and many international lawyers have opposed the use of the Inquiries Act for the probe because it gives ministers a say over what is published.
Mr Ahern told the Dail that Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain had told him he was seeking a judge to head the inquiry which should get under way later in the year.
However, Mr Ahern said securing a judge to chair the hearing would not be easy as the international legal community had advised its members against accepting the position.
Earlier this month, the Irish parliament passed an all-party motion calling for an independent inquiry into allegations of state collusion in the 1989 murder.
The Finucane family, the murdered lawyer's widow Geraldine and their sons, have campaigned far and wide against the use of the Inquiries Act.
They have visited Tony Blair in London, Mr Ahern in Dublin, Brussels and Washington, and said they will not take part in the inquiry if it is established under the Act.
Peter Hain has decided to go ahead despite the opposition.
The Northern Ireland Office said last night the suggestion that ministers could impose restrictions on evidence to an inquiry under the Inquiries Act was wrong.
A spokesman said: "Ministers will have no say in who the inquiry calls or what evidence it sees."
The inquiry would seek: "Absolutely everything that is relevant", said the spokesman, and have full powers to compel all documents and evidence to be provided, and witnesses to attend.
However, crucially, the Northern Ireland Office statement added the words the Finucane family had feared.
"The inquiry report will be published and anything held back, redacted, will be the bare minimum to protect national security and fulfil the Government's legal obligations.
"The inquiry's conclusions - that is what happened and whether or not there was collusion - will certainly be made public."
Mr Finucane was shot dead in front of his family in their North Belfast home by loyalist gunmen and there have been continuing allegations of British security force collusion in the murder.
Mr Ahern told the Dail that progressing the inquiry under the Inquiries Act was "unsatisfactory".
He said Peter Hain had told him last Thursday that he was going ahead with the inquiry and that they were seeking a venue and a judge.
He added: "I understand from international connections that they are having great difficulty getting a judge. The legal world has been quite active in putting out reasons a judge should not take up the position. I have been trying to help in doing that too."
Mr Ahern told the Dail it would take five years to inquire into the killing and cost 50 million euro (£32.4 million).
Of the report which would come out at the end, he said: "Nobody will ever believe it, at least none of the people we must try to represent.
"Perhaps some people in the United Kingdom will believe it, although I have my doubts about that too, especially where the legal profession is concerned."
with Geraldine Finucane: Breaking the glass ceiling
Geraldine Finucane, widow of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane, talks to Justine McCarthy about meeting her husband for the first time, why he was shot, and the death threats made against her during her 18 year campaign for an inquiry into what happened
Brian Nelson is dead. William Stobie is dead. Has Margaret Thatcher got much longer?” she calls back over her shoulder, padding in pink stockinged feet across the kitchen where her handsome 39-year-old husband was shot 14 times, and died still holding his dinner fork. She flicks on the light switch beside the door that connects the kitchen to the hallway. The sudden illumination in the winter’s gloom shows that the door consists to this day of a full-length pane of glass; just as in the descriptions of the murder, when two loyalist killers burst through the front door on 12 February, 1989 and fired the first bullets into Pat Finucane’s stomach and chest, through the glass panel.
“Eventually, they could say, ‘alright, you can have whatever inquiry you want now’, and everyone would be dead and everything would be shredded,” Geraldine Finucane continues, joining the dots of a Machiavellian end-game scenario as she resumes her seat, tucking her feet tidily under her. The question she has been asked is if she believes that British security forces’ collusion in the murder of her husband and others in Northern Ireland went all the way to the top: was Margaret Thatcher directing the Dirty War from her armchair in Number 10?
“As far as I know, Peter Cory [who investigated the case] did see cabinet papers and she was a very hands-on prime minister. She was very, very angry that Airey Neave [Tory spokesman on Northern Ireland] had been killed by the IRA so it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if she was being informed of what was going on. We can talk about these things and we can make these suppositions but I would like the proof.”
The only way to acquire that proof, she believes, is by an independent judicial inquiry but what the British government has conjured up is a bespoke tribunal controlled by the cabinet, facilitated by the Inquiries Act 2005, which effectively empowers any government minister to block public scrutiny of state actions. Peter Cory, the former Canadian supreme court judge who, following his own investigations, commissioned by London, recommended a full-scale inquiry, and Lord Saville, who chaired the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, have condemned the act and said they would not sit on any inquiry set up under its provisions. Organisations like Amnesty International and the New York Bar Association have urged the British government to revert to the 1921 enabling legislation and the Finucane family has said it will not cooperate with an inquiry under the aegis of the Inquiries Act 2005.
“If members of the defence forces are involved in our case and the Minister for Defence can say to the inquiry, ‘you’re not allowed to do this or that’, how fair is that?” asks the murdered solicitor’s widow. “This one clause whereby the government retains ultimate control over the tribunal is what we’re taking issue with. We have always said we want an inquiry and we’ve always stated that we want only one inquiry and, therefore, we want the best possible method of getting to the truth. We feel what we’re being offered at the moment does not give us that. It’s not acceptable because it’s unfair and it’s very biased towards the government.
“It’s not that we’ve been offered what we wanted and now we’re just being thane (stubborn). We don’t want to do what the Bloody Sunday people had to go through, having one inquiry and then having to have a second one. When Cory was given the task of examining this he was under the impression that he was looking at things under the existing legislation. Peter Cory was very upset because he felt he had been misled and used. He said in a letter to a [US] congressional hearing that it was like an Alice In Wonderland situation.”
Watching her as she talks, in slow, soft sentences, stooping occasionally to stroke Dali, a stereophonic-purring cat with an abstract-arty face – one half plain chocolate, the other half ginger – the thought registers repeatedly that they must have made a head-turning couple. He, purposeful and masculine in his familiar trench coat. She with her fragilely carved features and pale oriental-shaped eyes. The human tragedy of what happened here in this house is palpable.
The family was sitting down to dinner in the double-fronted detached red-brick they had recently moved to on Fortwilliam Drive, a somnolent leafy white-collar road in north Belfast. Geraldine and Pat and their three children, Michael (17), Catherine (12) and John (8). At 7.25pm, two masked men dressed in military-style camouflage jackets came crashing through the unlocked front door. The intruders yelled that they were IRA men, “here to take the car”. Pat Finucane started to approach the glass door from within the kitchen. “No, you’re here to take me out,” he called back. They shot him three times through the door, before entering the kitchen and firing 11 more times into his prostrate body. Geraldine covered her head with her hands, a ricocheting bullet leaving a flesh wound on her ankle. Michael held his sister and little brother, his grip on them tightening with every shot.
Though she proves unexpectedly forthcoming in answering every other question – not even objecting to probes into personal areas that she had initially vetoed when arranging this interview – the night of the murder is the one subject she declines to discuss. “I just think it’s a very personal thing and I really don’t want... I don’t see the need to talk about it,” she reasons. “People have very good imaginations. They can imagine.”
They had met in Trinity College Dublin as students in the late-1960s, an unsurprising venue for Geraldine as the daughter of middle-class Northern Protestants. She was studying English, philosophy and geography and “adored” Dublin; has done ever since. For Pat Finucane, the son of Belfast nationalists, growing up with two brothers destined to join the IRA and go to jail (one of them romantically involved with Mairead Farrell at the time she was shot dead by the SAS in Gibraltar in 1988), Trinity was less familiar territory.
“He did English, French and philosophy. In those days, you didn’t get your law degree the same way you do now. You did a general degree. Then you had to find yourself a master and go to Queens. He was supposed to get a dispensation from the bishop to allow him go to Trinity but I don’t think he ever got it. We met through the football club.”
What was it you loved about him?
A meditative silence. “There was no one thing... I just loved him.”
They married after their graduation and, in 1979, Pat opened a legal practise in Belfast with fellow solicitor Peter Madden.
“When Pat and Peter went to the office in the beginning they probably had one client between them in a whole day,” she smiles at the memory. “They built up a reputation because they worked very hard. He really did work very hard,” she adds, as if truly realising it anew. “We didn’t have an answering machine at that time and people would ring here seven days of the week. The children were all taught very young how to take a phone message.”
But Pat Finucane’s skill at advocacy was winning the attention of more than prospective clients. According to Justin O’Brien’s book, Killing Finucane: “He had successfully challenged the British government at the European Court of Human Rights over its incarceration policies in the mid-1970s. He had spearheaded the use of compensation claims in cases involving allegations of mistreatment and torture within interrogation centres. He was also instrumental in galvanising opposition to the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, which was facing a barrage of international criticism from human rights organisations.”
By bringing the 1982 murder of Gervaise McKerr to the European Court, he raised the temperature on the shoot-to-kill controversy. In November 1988, one of his clients, Patrick McGeown, was acquitted of all charges related to the mob-hysteria killings of two soldiers in Andersonstown during the funeral of one of Michael Stone’s victims at Milltown Cemetery. In a 1992 interview with American lawyers, McGeown recounted that he was subsequently stopped by a police officer, irked at his acquittal, who told him: “Don’t think you got away with that. We intend to make sure that you won’t be about too long. And your mate Pat, we’ll fix him too.”
Judge Cory’s inquiry turned up several examples of the security forces in the North having knowledge of danger to Pat Finucane and failing to act. His wife looks back now and remembers the alarm she felt when she heard that the junior Home Office minister, Douglas Hogg, had engaged in felon-setting during a House of Commons debate in January 1989. “I have to state as a fact, but with great regret,” he told parliament, “that there are in Northern Ireland a number of solicitors who are unduly sympathetic to the cause of the IRA.” There was uproar, but never a retraction from Lord Hogg.
“Pat had been threatened,” Geraldine remembers. “When he went to Castlereagh holding centre to meet his clients they would say, ‘we’d better get a new solicitor because you’re not going to be around’ and ‘you’re a thug in a suit’. They were the sort of things being said to them. It started very low level, slightly derogatory, and ended up as death threats. Pat thought they were interrogation techniques rather than being directed at the solicitor. But when Douglas Hogg said that it certainly made me stand back and look at things. Three to three-and-a-half weeks later, Pat was dead.”
Why, does she think, was her husband selected for assassination?
“Because he used the legal system for people who previously had no one to do that for them,” she replies, picking her words carefully.
“People who are repressed generally don’t have any representation but Pat was educated. He decided to become a lawyer and he wanted to give something back to his own community. People who previously had no representation suddenly had someone to represent them.
“When he was killed it really did rock the whole judiciary. There were a number of people in the law who just decided they wouldn’t do anything controversial after that. They weren’t putting their heads above the parapet, and that’s fine if you have a young family and you need to protect them. Other people considered moving away altogether because they were so worried. Then, some people, like Rosemary Nelson [solicitor killed by a car bomb in 1999], decided they would continue challenging things, and she paid with her life.”
Even though police witnesses at the inquest and other investigations since have reiterated that Pat Finucane was not a member of the IRA, unidentified sources have persisted with the line that he was in off-the-record conversations. The former IRA informer, Sean O’Callaghan, has claimed that he saw Finucane at an IRA meeting in Donegal.
“Sean O’Callaghan, as far as I can make out, is a liar,” she responds calmly. “Anything I have ever read that he has said is untrue. Pat had a very good reputation and he was a very good lawyer so, when someone like Sean O’Callaghan comes along, people know the truth.”
She admits that the IRA allegations “make the children very angry, though they’re grown up now and they probably deal with its better than I do, to be honest.” (Two of the three children followed their father into the law. The eldest, Michael, has his own solicitor’s firm in Dublin and the youngest, John, is serving his apprenticeship with a Belfast firm.)
Pat Finucane’s murder changed nobody’s life as much as it changed his wife’s. Testimony to that begins at her garden gate, a tasteful red-painted iron gate fitted with intricate wiring and an intercom. Security lights have been installed under the house eaves and among the flowering shrubs in the garden. The installations are unobtrusive but markedly more sophisticated than those at the neighbouring houses, a legacy not only of the past but of a real and present danger.
“A journalist came to my brother-in-law and told him he was aware there was an imminent threat against my life,” she recounts. “We asked the police about it and they came back and said, ‘oh, yes, there is a threat but I wouldn’t say it was imminent’.” She requests that the danger not be over-stated as her elderly mother is unaware of it. Asked why someone would want to kill her to [sic - she] replies: “People are afraid of the truth. Maybe they think if they get rid of me it will all stop.”
Geraldine Finucane has never had the opportunity to tell her story to a judicial inquiry into her husband’s murder. She and the family did not cooperate with the Cory inquiry because, on principle, they believed that it was an unnecessary process used to delay the establishment by the British government of a full inquiry into the circumstances of Pat’s death. “When he was first appointed, we asked for a meeting so we could explain our position and that it was nothing personal. He was fine about it. He was a delightful man, an absolutely delightful man who did his job under difficult circumstances because his wife took ill just after he’d been appointed.”
Since then, William Stobie, a loyalist who admitted his involvement, was murdered after his trial collapsed and the only person convicted in relation to the murder, Ken Barrett, was released from jail last year. Geraldine Finucane has consistently stated that her attention throughout has been focused, not on the two men to broke into her house and killed her husband, but on the faceless people who orchestrated it.
“When Pat was killed there were obvious questions that needed to be answered. It was very slow at the start. You asked questions and nothing happened but then Brian Nelson [a British agent operating as the UDA’s head of intelligence who was involved in the Finucane murder] was arrested and it was discovered he was an agent. Then we found out about the Force Research Unit [an elite unit of British intelligence]. On Pat’s tenth anniversary, Jane Winter from British Irish Rights Watch put everything that we had found out together in a paper called ‘Deadly Intelligence’ and when I read that I realised that this was a strategy or a policy against everyone.
“I thought ‘this didn’t just effect Pat, there’s a little umbrella of people who’ve been affected like this. We gave the paper to the Taoiseach and when we went to see him Liz O’Donnell said, when she read it, she thought it was chilling. Sometimes little would happen. People say to us ‘18 years is such a long time’ but now the word ‘collusion’ is used freely. When we started off, I think people used to feel, ‘God love her, she’s grasping at straws, poor thing’. People have moved on now and want to know how much of it there was.
“We’ve got great support. My family and Pat’s family have been very supportive. When I used to work in town, people would come up to me on the street and say, ‘You keep doing what you’re doing. This needs to come out’. I don’t see myself as strong, because I’m not doing it on my own. I’m stubborn, maybe. If I really want something and someone really annoys me, then I’ll persist until I get it. Not everyone wants to give their life up and do what I do. You don’t want journalists in your home and you don’t want media attention.
“I can’t look at this on a totally personal level any more. There are other groups who have discovered collusion. We dropped our stone in the water and it started sending out ripples. What is going to happen when all the other stones are dropped? I feel that if it wasn’t very important, the British government would have dealt with it before now. There must be a reason why they’ve prevented it [a full inquiry] from happening. They’re trying to sort Northern Ireland out but they know there are issues that need to be dealt with. You need to have the place cleaned up. You need to have no festering wounds. Why don’t they want to deal with this use? They have so much in there they don’t want to come out.”
In all the 18 years, did she ever encounter anyone on the side of the British government she considered brave enough to expose the truth? “Mo Mowlam would have liked to have helped but she was one voice.”
What of Tony Blair? “The first time we met Tony Blair he didn’t take us seriously at all. He came into the room in a very gung-ho fashion with his sleeves rolled up. There were no formalities. We said at that first meeting: ‘You’re New Labour. You didn’t create this problem but, if you have the political will, you can deal with it.’ Now when we see him, we say: ‘You didn’t deal with it, so now you are part of the problem.’”
Though Bertie Ahern is the first Taoiseach she has met, she says Irish governments have been very supportive. “It was they who persuaded us to accept Peter Cory because they felt it was the best way to get an inquiry. We were very worried that he could come out and say, ‘no, you don’t need an inquiry’. But it has dragged it out for so many more years. Maybe if they (Irish governments) had been slightly stronger or more insistent, we would be farther along.
“We have been very lucky that the public in general have always supported us and not got tired of us. I don’t want to be seen to be somebody who has been asking for something for 18 years and then, when I get it [an inquiry], turn my nose up at it. I have said to Peter Hain that, under the Weston Park Agreement, they can make a special category of our case and set up the inquiry under the existing legislation. They are going to have to back down from their position if they want us to participate but there is a way to do it without losing face.”
Later, at the door saying goodbye, Geraldine Finucane is captured in the back-glow of her kitchen light. For someone whose character has towered over Northern Ireland’s recent history, her diminutive physical size is remarkable. As she closes the door, calling to Dali, the cat, the lasting impression is of a woman determined to expose the full circumstances of her husband’s death. To her, Pat Finucane died because of his faith in the law and only the law itself can finally lay his memory to rest.
Finucane Murder - No Charges Against British State Colluders
No police officers or British soldiers are to be charged after a major investigation into collusion with loyalist paramilitaries involved in the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane, it was revealed today.
Even though a marathon 14-year investigation by former Scotland Yard chief John Stevens established elements within British security forces collaborated with terrorist killers, the prosecuting authorities have ruled there is insufficient evidence to press charges.
Their decision means senior officers in the former RUC and British military intelligence will not stand trial for any alleged involvement in the Finucane murder.
The 39-year-old lawyer was shot dead in February 1989 in front of his family when gunmen burst into his north Belfast home.
Just one of the killers was convicted, while a second was acquitted and later shot dead by former associates in the UDA.
The north's Public Prosecution Service (PPS) said a wide range of offences, including murder, had been considered against a number of individuals, but there was not enough evidence to bring charges.
In a report handed over four years ago, it was claimed that informants and agents were allowed to operate without effective control and to participate in terrorist crimes.
John Stevens said the Finucane killing could have been prevented, and claimed his investigations were wilfully obstructed and misled.
But as the PPS announced its decision that no further prosecutions will be brought, assistant director Pamela Atchison said: "Some of the difficulties included an absence of particular records, potential witnesses who had since died and the inability in certain instances to identify the role and responsibilities that individuals played in specific events.
"In addition, the prosecution had to take account of potential abuse of process arguments by the defence that any trial at this stage would be unfair."
At the heart of the Stevens inquiry, his third into collusion, was the role of the British army's intelligence operations in Ireland at that time, especially the Force Research Unit (FRU).
Nine former members of the covert unit, including its ex-chief Gordon Kerr, were questioned, as well as seven police officers and one civilian.
Also under investigation were three top UDA men who were working for the intelligence services: Brian Nelson, who supplied information to FRU; Ken Barrett, who later admitted shooting Mr Finucane; and William Stobie, an RUC informer shot dead by loyalists when they feared he was about to testify against them.
Loyalist gunmen targeted Mr Finucane because he had represented a number of republicans in the courts.
Even though it was claimed British intelligence had been warned in advance that the lawyer was going to be shot, Mr Finucane was not alerted.
But in its statement today, the PPS insisted: "There was insufficient evidence to establish that any member of FRU had agreed with Brian Nelson or any other person that Patrick Finucane should be murdered or had knowledge at the relevant time that the murder was to take place."
Mr Finucane's widow, Geraldine, confirmed she had been told of the PPS announcement.
She said: "I have been made aware of the decision but have yet to read all the papers and therefore can't comment at this stage."
Weapons handed back
Meanwhile, it was revealed that weapons deactivated after Stobie gave them to his RUC handlers in 1989 were later used in loyalist killings.
Investigators had examined the conduct of RUC officers and a civilian employee in relation to the possession and handling of five guns.
The Stevens team uncovered evidence that two of the batch were either partially or fully deactivated before being handed back to Stobie.
One of the guns, a Browning pistol, was later reactivated and used to kill Catholic man Aidan Wallace in west Belfast's Devenish Arms bar in December 1991.
Less than three months later, in south Belfast, the same weapon was used in the Seán Graham's bookmakers massacre, when UDA gunmen shot dead five people.
The three Stevens inquiries, which produced more than one million pages of documentation, resulted in 46 convictions.
Seven of those followed the third inquiry, including Barrett, 44, who pleaded guilty to the Finucane murder but was released from jail in May last year. He is understood to be living at a secret location in England.
Stobie, 51, was charged but later acquitted of a range of offences, including killing Mr Finucane and Adam Lambert, a Protestant student murdered in 1987.
Just weeks after Stobie, a UDA quartermaster, walked free after the case against him collapsed, he was gunned down outside his north Belfast home.
As with Nelson, the PPS decided there was insufficient evidence to establish that any RUC officer either consented with Stobie in the Finucane or Lambert murders, or had knowledge at the relevant time of his alleged involvement in the killings.
Sinn Féin MLA, Alex Maskey, who survived a UDA gun attack at his home in west Belfast in which his close friend Alan Lundy was shot dead in May 1993, said: "This is an absolute scandal that no action is being taken.
"People are being told that while the (British) state was involved in the murders of their loved ones, no prosecution will be taken.
"It shows the British government is incapable of facing up their own responsibilities in all of this."
- Complete Failure of British State Accountability
Amnesty International's response
to the announcement by the northern prosecuting authorities
Today (25 June 2007), after an unconscionable and inordinate delay -- more than four years after receipt of many individual files from the Stevens III investigation into matters of collusion in Northern Ireland -- the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for Northern Ireland has announced that no-one is to be charged following the review of the material submitted by the Stevens III investigation.
The DPP explained that prosecutions could not be brought mainly because the evidence would not satisfy the “Test for Prosecution”, namely, that “the available and admissible evidence is sufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction and prosecution is required in the public interest”.
Amnesty International considers that this announcement represents an indictment of the administration of criminal justice in Northern Ireland and the prosecutorial authorities, in particular.
The fact that much of the DPP's decision appears to hinge on the absence of evidence simply reinforces concern about the extent to which state officials have been involved in a cover-up in respect of their collusion with paramilitary organizations in the perpetration of serious human rights abuses.
Amnesty International considers that rather than reassuring the victims, their families and the public at large that that the rule of law has been respected, this decision actually reinforces concern that there has been a complete failure on the part of state authorities to ensure accountability for serious human rights abuses.
In light of today’s announcement, Amnesty International reiterates its call on the UK authorities to immediately institute a properly independent judicial inquiry, held in public, into the 1989 killing of human rights lawyer Patrick Finucane.
Commission Respond to Collusion Prosecution Failure
The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission regrets that no prosecutions will be brought in connection with Lord Stevens’ most recent investigation into alleged collusion between the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries.
The Commission has, since its creation, closely followed the allegations of collusion arising from the murders of Pat Finucane and Brian Adam Lambert and the three investigations carried out by Lords Stevens. The third report published by Lord Stevens in 2003 referred to “collusion, the wilful failure to keep records, the absence of accountability, the withholding of intelligence and evidence, and the extreme of agents being involved in murder.” The Commission believes that the matters identified by the three Stevens inquiries raise serious human rights concerns.
According to Professor Monica McWilliams, Chief Commissioner:
“The Human Rights Commission has noted the many human rights violations acknowledged by the Stevens investigation to have been carried out by forces of the State and loyalist paramilitaries. The limited number of prosecutions that have resulted from the three Stevens inquiries have almost all involved possession of documents, as opposed to the role of State agents in passing on that information, collusion in planning acts of terrorism, or otherwise breaking the law. We are disappointed that, following this third investigation, there has been no effective remedy to address these through the public prosecution system. Moreover, we believe that this will further undermine public confidence in the criminal justice system especially amongst victims’ families who have been left to deal with these issues for so long.
It is our view that the statement released today by the Prosecution Service raises as many questions as answers. Although we welcome the fact that the reasons for non-prosecution have been disclosed, it is clear that additional information is required particularly as to what factors were taken into account in determining what constitutes the public interest aspect of this case. There is certainly no public interest in concealing the truth.
The accountability and transparency of the State in its ability to investigate itself is now in question. There is a clear responsibility on government to state how an effective independent investigation into this period of our past can be mounted when even the Prosecution Service is unable to proceed with cases after such an extensive investigation.”
The Human Rights Commission is requesting an urgent meeting with the Public Prosecution Service to seek further information on its use of the public interest test.
Offer "Submissive, Timid, Unconvincing Reasons"
The family of Pat Finucane have responded to the decision by the DPP for northern Ireland that there will be no prosecutions arising from Stevens III.
Speaking on behalf of the Finucane family, Michael Finucane, who is a practising solicitor based in Dublin and the eldest son of Pat Finucane, said: “My family and I are extremely angry and disappointed at the decision of the DPP not to prosecute anyone arising from the report of the Stevens III Investigation and especially the manner in which it has been delivered. Once again, we are expected to respond at a moment’s notice to important events that the authorities have had years to consider.”
“It is difficult to square the unequivocal nature of the conclusions reached by Lord Stevens four years ago with the submissive, timid, unconvincing reasons advanced by the DPP for not instituting a single prosecution. It is notable that the DPP feels himself unable to use “certain intelligence records as evidence”, a clear indication that the interests of national security remain more important than the human lives. The announcement by Lord Stevens in Belfast four years ago sent shockwaves through the British establishment that reverberated around the world. The announcement today by the DPP for Northern Ireland sinks like a heavy stone into the mire of collusion and cover-up, taking with it any hope that the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland will deliver for victims where the State’s own agents and agencies are concerned.”
“The family of Pat Finucane will not be deterred by the decision of the DPP. We will continue to press for a fully independent public inquiry into the murder and all of the surrounding circumstances. We sought such an inquiry from the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair and were blocked and frustrated in our efforts by him. We now look to his successor to show that the era of secrecy, cover-up and collusion is truly over. We look to Gordon Brown to deliver on the commitment made by the British Government to hold an independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the murder of Pat Finucane.
“Only an independent public inquiry can satisfy the concerns of my family and the wider public about the existence of collusion between the British army, the RUC and security services in the murder of Pat Finucane and many others.”
By Michael Finucane
Real peace will not reign until an independent inquiry resolves whether the British government colluded in my father's murder.
The decision by the director of public prosecutions not to prosecute any army or Royal Ulster Constabulary officers over the role in my dad's murder is disappointing but not surprising.
Perhaps the most curious thing about the decision is that it makes a perverse kind of sense. After all, why would you prosecute people for doing the job you asked them to do in the first place?
This is what is at stake in the issue of collusion, and prosecuting people would have opened a murky world the government wanted kept hidden. In fact, the word "collusion" has become the adjective of choice for what was, in reality, British government policy in Northern Ireland since the 1970s.
The official version was that state agents were infiltrating Loyalist paramilitary organisations in order to prevent what the paramilitaries were planning to do. There are problems with this explanation.
Firstly, the activities continued despite the existence of agents and many people were still being murdered. Secondly, this explanation conflicts with the internal reports of one of the main agencies responsible for running the agents. This was a branch of army intelligence known as the force research unit and an example of its "prevention strategy", supposedly saving lives and preventing killings, reads as follows: "6137 [one of its agents within the UDA, Brian Nelson] wants... [the UDA] only to attack legitimate targets and not innocent Catholics. Since 6137 took up his position as intelligence officer, the targeting has developed and is now more professional".
The reason this doesn't sound much like a plan to save lives is because it wasn't. It is exactly what it does sound like: a policy of assassination by proxy, where the government sanctions the use of unlawful organisations to carry out killings in order to maintain plausible deniability. When Loyalists attacked, the government had a perfect alibi. You would then hear the usual condemnations of the killings and promises to hunt down the people responsible. How empty those promises sound today.
This issue simply must be addressed because state collusion with paramilitaries remains a festering sore in the way of rehabilitation from conflict-riven wasteland to modern, autonomously governed democracy. The responsibility here lies firmly with the government, which has never accepted that the state was a participant in the conflict.
This is the last conflict demon to be exorcised in Northern Ireland and if the society we hope to create is to have the best chance of overcoming the past then the truth must out. Nothing will be solved by burying the truth or ignoring it, as some have suggested.
The answer is to expose and confront the facts. An independent public judicial inquiry, invested with all necessary powers and autonomy to do the job required is the only vessel capable of bringing Northern Ireland across its last Rubicon.
bolsters Finucane campaign
Relatives of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane will today mark the 19th anniversary of the killing by pressing British prime minister Gordon Brown and Northern Secretary Shaun Woodward for a full inquiry.
The Taoiseach's office confirmed last night that Mr Ahern also raised the issue with Mr Brown on Sunday. His spokesman said no commitments were given by the prime minister.
An international public inquiry was recommended by retired Canadian judge Peter Cory who investigated the case in 2004. The British government however, subsequently passed legislation enabling much of any such inquiry's findings to be withheld from publication.
The Finucane family has opposed this and has repeated calls for an inquiry to be held under existing legislation.
Former London police chief Sir John Stevens has concluded a number of investigations into collusion between loyalist paramilitaries and the RUC. However, the vast bulk of his findings are being kept secret.
The Finucanes have also announced that international human rights lawyers Michael Mansfield and Richard Harvey are to join their legal team.
Michael Finucane, the eldest son of Pat Finucane who is a Dublin-based solicitor, said: "The British government promised to establish an independent public inquiry following the recommendations of Justice Peter Cory. Britain then delayed the establishment of the inquiry to pass new legislation that gives control to its own ministers.
"Our legal team are tasked with ensuring the inquiry will not be reduced to a state vehicle for suppression. Secret justice is no justice at all."
In a statement Michael Mansfield said the significance of the murder of Pat Finucane could not be underestimated.
"The extent to which collusion existed between Britain and loyalist paramilitaries is deeply shocking, and all the more so when employed in the murder of an officer of the court to stop him from doing his job, and to deter others from doing theirs."
Richard Harvey added: "Nineteen years ago, I attended Pat Finucane's funeral in Belfast. It is unconscionable that successive governments have failed to conduct an independent inquiry.
"There can be no whitewash in this case and we will not allow another anniversary of this murder to pass without the government being called to account."
The legal appointments and the raising of the issue on the occasion of the anniversary are being seen as a bid by the Finucanes to push the British government into action and to end the impasse over the type of inquiry to be held.
The family has already succeeded in pressing for a joint resolution to be passed by both houses of the US Congress. However, there has been little movement on the question of an inquiry since 2005.
Inquiry 'Put on Hold'
The British government put on hold 18 months ago preparations for a public inquiry into the controversial murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, it emerged today.
As she prepared for what will be her family’s final meeting with Bertie Ahern before he stands down as Taoiseach next month, Geraldine Finucane, whose husband was gunned down by loyalists in his north Belfast home in 1989, revealed they had recently discovered a decision was taken Peter Hain to stop preparations for the inquiry.
Mrs Finucane said ahead of today’s meeting with Mr Ahern in Government Buildings in Dublin: “On April 7, 2008, my solicitor received a letter from the Northern Ireland Office, which stated that, 18 months ago in autumn 2006, a decision was taken by the then Secretary of State, Peter Hain, to cease all preparations for an inquiry.
“We were not informed of this decision at the time.
“The letter stated that the decision was taken because my family refused to accept ministerial control of an inquiry under the notorious Inquiries Act 2005.
“They appear to be saying that unless we agree that British government ministers should be allowed to control what information the inquiry is permitted to examine in public, there will be no inquiry at all.”
In 2003, former Metropolitan Police chief John Stevens reported his investigative team had uncovered evidence that members of British army intelligence and the RUC colluded with UFF terrorists in the murder of Mr Finucane and a student, Adam Lambert, two years earlier.
A year later retired Canadian Judge Peter Cory recommended to the British government that a public inquiry be held into the allegations of collusion in the murders of Mr Finucane as well as the killings of fellow solicitor Rosemary Nelson in 1999, Catholic father of two Robert Hamill in 1997 and LVF leader Billy Wright in 1997.
The Nelson, Hamill and Wright inquiries have all got under way.
However the Finucane inquiry has been stalled because his family have objected to it being held under the Inquiries Act passed in 2005 because it enables British government minister to rule when an inquiry sits in public or private, withholding information and any findings from the public domain on grounds of 'national security'.
The family, the Irish government and opposition, Sinn Féin, the SDLP, human rights organisations and Judge Cory criticised the Inquiries Act and called on the British government to hold a fully independent public inquiry as they believed would happen in 2001.
Mrs Finucane said the latest revelation had confirmed her doubts that the British government ever really intended in having a genuinely independent public inquiry into her husband’s murder.
She said her solicitor had written back to the British government, asking if it planned to hold an inquiry or not.
“I want to be involved in an inquiry so that I can resolve the many issues surrounding Pat’s murder,” she said.
“I do not want to have to campaign forever. All I ask is that the inquiry is open and fair and that it is not controlled by the British government from behind the scenes.”
Mrs Finucane also commended Mr Ahern for supporting the family’s call for an independent public inquiry and urged his imminent successor as Taoiseach Brian Cowen to compel the British government to hold one.
In a statement, the Northern Ireland Office responded: “The Secretary of State (Shaun Woodward) takes the death of Pat Finucane extremely seriously.
“When the family met his predecessor (Mr Hain) they made it clear their opposition to an inquiry being held under the terms of the 2005 Inquiries Act.
“We are considering their most recent correspondence.”
Call for Finucane Inquiry
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern yesterday met the family of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane and reiterated his government’s support for a public inquiry into the killing.
The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) have told the Finucane family that preparations for an independent inquiry into the murder in 1989 have ceased.
Mr Ahern met Mr Finucane’s widow Geraldine at Government Buildings.
“Geraldine and the Finucane family have travelled a long and difficult road in their search for the truth,” he said.
"I reiterated the government’s continuing support for a public inquiry into Pat’s murder. That position has full all-party support in Dáil Éireann.”
The NIO cited the family's opposition to the terms for the proposed inquiry as the obstacle. The family said it doubts if an inquiry will ever be held.
A letter addressed to Geraldine Finucane's solicitors and signed by Britain's northern secretary Shaun Woodward's principal private secretary earlier this month made clear that that preparatory work was stopped last year.
According to the NIO, this was because the family would not co-operate with the holding of an inquiry under the controversial Inquiries Act, which empowers the British government to withhold information and any findings from the public domain on grounds of national security.
Mrs Finucane, whose husband was shot dead in February 1989 by loyalists acting in collusion with British state agencies, has pressed for an inquiry to be held under existing less restrictive legislation. She argues that a tribunal under the Inquiries Act would not be sufficiently independent of government.
British State of Involvement in Murder of Pat Finucane
Sinn Féin West Belfast MP Gerry Adams yesterday unveiled a mural in memory of murdered human rights solicitor Pat Finucane.
Mr Adams commended those who designed the mural and all of those involved in organising the series of events this week to celebrate Pat Finucane's life and to mark his murder by the British state in collusion with the UDA.
The Sinn Féin leader outlined the extent of the collusion in the murder of Pat Finucane, and linked this to the concern many victims' families have with the role of the British state in respect of truth and truth recovery.
Speaking about the recently published Eames/Bradley Group's report on ways of dealing with the past, he said that the role of the British state in Pat Finucane's murder - and through collusion in the murder of hundreds of other Irish citizens - is one reason why Sinn Féin has serious reservations around their proposals for the creation of a Legacy Commission appointed by the British government.
Mr Adams commended the Finucane family who, he said, along with hundreds of other families, have campaigned relentlessly for many years for the truth to be revealed about the deaths of their loved ones.
The Sinn Féin President said: "The dignity and courage they have shown is in stark contrast to the behaviour of the British state.
"Thursday is the twentieth anniversary of Pat Finucane's death.
"Pat was a good, conscientious solicitor who worked long difficult hours, under trying conditions, representing his clients.
"He came from a working class background - in fact he and I went to the same school on the Falls Road.
"He was a lawyer working within a unionist dominated legal and judicial process that had been corrupted by years of British manipulation and a succession of new and ever more repressive laws.
"All of this was designed to maximise the power of the state and reduce the rights of citizens.
"Pat was also a husband to Geraldine and a father to three young children.
"But his devotion to human rights, his diligence in pursuit of his calling and his success - even when up against a judicial structure as biased as that which existed in the north of Ireland - had also brought him to the attention of others.
"Within the RUC he was a figure of hate. We now know that British intelligence agencies were plotting against him.
"Loyalist death squads, heavily infiltrated by agents and informers, were being pointed at him as someone - in their words - to be 'took out'.
"The extent of this state collusion is illustrated by those involved in Pat's murder:
"Pat's murder also came just weeks after British Home Office minister Douglas Hogg stood up in the British parliament and claimed that some solicitors in the north of Ireland were 'unduly sympathetic to the IRA'.
"Nelson, it should also be remembered, was centrally involved in the importation of South African weapons in 1988.
"The impact of this weapons shipment - which the British knew about from Nelson, from other agents in the north, as well as in South Africa - is to be found in the statistics of murder.
"In the three years prior to receiving this weapons shipment the unionist death squads had killed 34 people.
"In the three years after the shipment they killed 224 and wounded countless scores more.
"The dramatic rise during this period in the number of Sinn Féin activists and family members being killed can also be traced directly to this fact and to the information the Special Branch and British agencies were passing on to their agents within the unionist death squads.
"In the following six years three Sinn Féin Councillors, eleven party activists, and seven family members, including brothers, sons, spouses and partners were to be killed.
"Many others were to be seriously wounded. Republican homes and Sinn Féin offices became the frequent targets of attack by loyalist death squads.
"Since his death Pat's family has battled for an independent, international public inquiry into his murder.
"They have campaigned tirelessly and have won significant international support, including from the new US President Barack Obama.
"The British system resists this demand.
"Because Pat Finucane's murder and those involved with it highlights the depth and extent of collusion between British forces, unionist death squads and the British political establishment.
"In addition, the role of the British state in Pat Finucane's murder, and through collusion in the murder of hundreds of other citizens, is one reason why Sinn Féin has serious reservations around the proposal from the Consultative Group on the Past for the creation of a Legacy Commission appointed by the British government.
"This is not the independent and international commission, established by a reputable international body like the UN, that Sinn Féin believes is necessary to properly address this issue.
"Clearly, the British state are protagonists in this conflict.
"They are not innocent observers.
"It is important therefore that we continue to support the Finucane family in their demand for an independent, international judicial inquiry."
I still want
justice for my son Patrick says solicitor’s mother
GRIEF: Pat Finucane’s
mother, Kathleen, holds a picture of her son who was shot dead by
loyalists 20 years ago today
On the 20th anniversary of the murder of Pat Finucane, his mother Kathleen has broken her silence to describe her ongoing grief and her family’s long search for truth. She spoke to Barry McCaffrey
It is now 20 years since UDA gunmen burst into Pat Finucane’s north Belfast home and shot him dead in front of his wife and children as they sat down to Sunday dinner.
For two decades Kathleen Finucane has maintained a dignified silence following the murder of her eldest son.
Now, on the anniversary of his death and with no indication that the British government will allow a full public inquiry into his killing, Mrs Finucane has decided to break her silence.
“The pain of losing Patrick has never ever left me,” the 85 year-old widow said.
“I have cried and prayed for him every single day since he was taken from me.
“He was so special and a good, loving son to his father and myself.”
The eldest of eight children, Pat Finucane benefited from the post-war education system and in 1969 was the first in his family to go to university, studying philosophy and English at Trinity College Dublin.
The young student had already witnessed sectarianism at first hand when his family were forced to flee their home at Percy Street near the Shankill when the Troubles broke out in 1969.
A decade later his father, also Patrick, would die from a heart attack following a British army raid on the family home.
Mrs Finucane recalled her sense of pride when her eldest son was accepted into Trinity.
“We were all so very proud of Patrick. I was delighted when he went to university,” she said.
“I wanted all my children to benefit from education.”
A gifted footballer, Mr Finucane captained his university soccer team and would later sign for Irish League team Ards.
In Dublin he met and fell in love with a northern Protestant girl called Geraldine.
After graduating they married and returned to Belfast where Pat decided that he wanted to become a lawyer.
In 1979 he set up in partnership with close friend Peter Madden.
Over the next 10 years Mr Finucane became one of the north’s most high-profile lawyers, winning a series of landmark cases against the British government.
In 1981 he represented hunger striker Bobby Sands and in 1983 a number of the families of six unarmed republicans shot dead in the ‘shoot-to-kill’ controversy.
He represented loyalist clients as well but his successes against the state led to accusations of being an ‘IRA lawyer’.
In January 1989 Home Office minister Douglas Hogg claimed in the House of Commons that a number of unnamed solicitors were `unduly sympathetic’ to the IRA.
Mrs Finucane said her eldest son would visit or speak to her every day but kept death threats he received from her.
However, she remembers a sense of dread when she heard Douglas Hogg’s comments.
On the evening of Sunday February 12 1989 Mrs Finucane was visiting a family friend when her son Martin unexpectedly arrived.
She knew instantly that something was seriously wrong.
“I knew right away once I saw Martin’s face that he had bad news for me,” she said.
“I knew that harm had come to one of my sons.
“I was in a terrible state when Martin broke the news to me that Patrick had been murdered.
“I just broke down and was inconsolable in tears and shock. I was totally devastated, deep inside.
“My heart has been broken every day since.”
Within a short period evidence began to emerge of security force collusion in her son’s murder.
UDA leader Tommy Lyttle claimed that loyalists being questioned in Castlereagh were encouraged to target Pat Finucane.
British army agent Brian Nelson was shown to have planned the murder while the UDA man who supplied the guns, Billy Stobie, was a Special Branch agent who claimed that he warned police that an attack was imminent the day before Mr Finucane was killed.
In 2003 Britain’s most senior policeman Sir John (now Lord) Stevens publicly confirmed security force collusion in the solicitor’s murder.
Later that year the European Court of Human Rights also ruled that there had been “no effective’’ police investigation into the killing.
The European judges found that there had been a lack of independence in the RUC’s handling of the case, “which raised serious doubts as to the thoroughness or effectiveness with which the possibility of collusion had been pursued”.
They also raised serious concerns that the inquest into the solicitor’s murder had failed to address the collusion allegations and that Geraldine Finucane had not been allowed to tell it about death threats to her husband.
In 2004 Judge Peter Cory concluded that the evidence of security force collusion warranted a public inquiry.
The British government proposed an inquiry but only under the terms of new legislation which allowed ministers to place restrictions on evidence and witnesses.
The family refused to accept these conditions and progress on the inquiry has been stalled since 2006.
“I have never got over Patrick’s death, ever,” his mother said.
“It still haunts me to this very day, the pain is still very raw.
“Every time I read about it in the newspapers or see Patrick’s face on the news it breaks my heart.
“It makes me so sad and brings back such painful memories.
“I find it so hard when it comes to the anniversary of his murder.”
Mrs Finucane also expressed frustration at the British government’s continued attempts to block a full public inquiry.
“I want to see truth and justice for my family and for Patrick,” she said.
“I’m not a young woman any more and have come through many painful and sad times.
“The deaths of loved ones, but especially your children, are the most painful for a mother.
“I may not be with my family for long. All I want for us all is to have truth and justice.”
Mrs Finucane said she would only accept an independent, international inquiry into her son’s murder.
“I don’t trust the British government. I never have and I never will,” she said.
“They murdered my son and they must be brought to justice.
“Patrick was a good lawyer. He was only doing his job and representing his clients to the best of his ability.
“He was challenging the injustices of the British state and they murdered him for it.”
tells family inquiry may be refused
The family of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane hit out last night after the British government suggested that it could abandon a public inquiry into the solicitor’s murder.
It is 20 years since Mr Finucane was shot dead in front of his wife and children on February 12 1989.
It later emerged that at least of three of the killer gang were security force agents.
In 2003 Britain’s most senior policeman, Sir John Stevens, publicly confirmed security force collusion in Mr Finucane’s murder.
A year later former Canadian Supreme Court judge Peter Cory recommended a public inquiry into the solicitor’s murder.
However, legislation was rushed through the House of Commons to establish the Inquiries Act 2005, giving British government ministers power to withhold evidence.
The restrictions were opposed by leading members of the judiciary, including Judge Cory and the chairman of the Bloody Sunday tribunal Lord Saville.
The Finucane family argued that the Inquiries Act made it impossible to hold an independent hearing into the solicitor’s murder.
However, on the 20th anniversary of Mr Finucane’s murder the British government has warned his family that it may now refuse to hold any inquiry.
In a letter to the Finucane family last week, Secretary of State Shaun Woodward’s principal under-secretary Simon Marsh said that the government was considering the recent publication of the Eames/Bradley consultative group on how Northern Ireland should deal with the legacy of the past.
“I would like to assure you that no decision has yet been taken by government in relation to any of the group’s recommendations, including their recommendations in relation to any Finucane inquiry,” he said.
The senior civil servant said the government would welcome the Finucane family’s views on the Eames/Bradley report.
However, in what is being seen as an indication that the British government could now abandon an inquiry into the solicitor’s murder, Mr Marsh wrote: “All these matters, like the outcome of discussions with the Finucane family or their legal representatives about the form of any inquiry, will, of course, be relevant factors for ministers in deciding whether it remains in the public interest to proceed with an inquiry.”
Responding to concerns that the government may be about to ban a public inquiry into his father’s murder, John Finucane said: “We are very concerned about this implied threat not to allow any inquiry into my father’s murder.
“We received this letter on the anniversary of my father’s murder.
“The British government appears to be preparing to break promises that they made, not only to ourselves but also to the Irish government and others.
“The question needs to be asked just whose interest would it be not to have a public inquiry into my father’s murder.”
Last night an NIO spokesman said the British government had consistently told the Finucane family and their legal team that “the only mechanism” for an inquiry was under the terms of the Inquiries Act.
“The government must take into account the public interest before making a decision to hold any public inquiry,” the spokesman said.
Britain was behind Finucane murder
A retired RUC detective has admitted he was warned not to investigate too closely the British state-sponsored murder of civil-rights lawyer Pat Finucane.
Alan Simpson, one of the RUC’s most senior investigators, was called in after Mr Finucane was gunned down at his Belfast home in February 1989.
In his book Duplicity And Deception, to be published this week, he recalls that a few days after the murder he was visited by Wilfred Monahan, the then RUC Assistant Chief Constable.
After watching a video of the crime scene, Mr Monahan, who has since died, said: “Alan, if I were you I wouldn’t get too deeply involved in this one.”
The remark stunned Mr Simpson and over the following months his suspicions grew that the British security services had colluded with loyalists and, he said: “the ACC’s words took on a more sinister meaning”.
Alan Simpson rose to the rank of detective superintendent in the RUC and was the number two in Belfast CID.
His unique position to give a considered view of what really went on behind the scenes in Britain’s dirty war may well leave him vulnerable to smears, and possibly worse, from his former colleagues.
invites Finucane family to meeting
The family of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, who was murdered by loyalists colluding with the British state in 1989, has been invited to meet the British government to discuss their views of an inquiry, MPs were told today.
Britain’s secretary in the six counties, Owen Paterson, said he had written to relatives of Mr Finucane so he could hear their views on his murder.
The 39-year-old father-of-three was repeatedly shot in front of his family at their north Belfast home on February 12, 1989.
The family refused to accept an inquiry offered by the previous British government because it would take place under new legislation which gives British ministers undue influence.
During question time in the House of Commons, Labour’s Meg Hillier (Hackney South and Shoreditch) asked whether the coalition government intended to carry out an inquiry.
Mr Paterson said there had been a “long-running exchange” between the Labour government and Mr Finucane’s family on the issue.
“Before I decide how I propose to approach this question, I want to get the views of the Finucane family for myself,” he said.
“I’ve written to the family to invite them to meet with me.”
The DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson accused the Finucane family of wanting ‘special provision’.
He said: “There is no bar to an inquiry going forward on this issue except the family is looking for some kind of special provision.
“The danger for the secretary of state if he grants that is that he creates a hierarchy and that thousands of people who haven’t had justice will look on and wonder why they’re not getting the same justice.”
Mr Paterson said that was a “valid point” but the first thing he should do was talk to the family.
He added: “But I would repeat it is our policy not to have any more costly and open-ended inquiries.”
cables: MI5 offered files on Finucane killing to inquiry
Leaked dispatches strengthen Finucane family's demands for inquiry into collusion between UFF gunmen and security forces
MI5 has said that it is prepared to hand over sensitive files on one of the most high-profile murders during the Northern Ireland Troubles carried out by loyalist gunmen working with members of the British security forces.
The offer in the case of the Pat Finucane, the well-known civil rights and defence lawyer murdered in front of his wife and three young children in 1989, is contained in confidential US embassy cables passed to WikiLeaks.
Supporters of Finucane welcomed the revelation of the offer as "highly significant" and believe it could pave the way for a fresh inquiry into the killing that would be acceptable to the family.
Owen Paterson, the Northern Ireland secretary, has told Finucane's widow that he will decide early next year whether to hold a hearing that could shine a new light on collusion between gunmen from the Ulster Freedom Fighters and members of the security forces.
A refusal to hold such a hearing, which Paterson has questioned in the past, would prevent an examination of the MI5 files.
Finucane's supporters spoke out after leaked US embassy cables, published by WikiLeaks, showed that:
• Bertie Ahern, the Irish prime minister between 1997 and 2008, told US diplomats that "everyone knows the UK was involved" in the murder.
• US diplomats feared that "elements of the security-legal establishments" in Britain beyond MI5 were fighting hard to resist an inquiry.
• Brian Cowen, the current Irish prime minister, warned that a failure to hold an inquiry could be a "deal breaker".
Finucane's family said MI5's offer was a highly significant development in their 20-year battle to uncover the circumstances surrounding the murder.
The Security Service's offer is revealed in a cable from June 2005, written by the US ambassador to Dublin, James C Kenny, which reported on a meeting between the head of MI5 and Mitchell Reiss, the US special envoy to Northern Ireland. In an account of the meeting between Reiss and Ahern, the ambassador wrote: "Reiss briefed him on his talks in London, including with the head of MI5 [Eliza Manningham-Buller], who committed to turning over all evidence her agency has to the inquiry, but she was adamant that the inquiry will proceed using the new legislation."
Peter Madden, Finucane's partner in the Belfast solicitors' firm Madden and Finucane, said: "This might significantly change things. This is something new and unexpected. It will have to be considered by the Finucane family." Madden said the family would proceed with care because MI5 said any inquiry would be carried out under new legislation, which allows for material to be withheld from the final report. The family have demanded the same terms as the Bloody Sunday inquiry, but the legislation for that dated back to the 1920s and was repealed in 2005.
Madden said the family may change its mind in light of the MI5 offer. "Our stance has been that we want the inquiry but it's the way the inquiry is proposed that is difficult to be part of, if it's held under the 2005 Inquiries Act. We need to look very carefully at the cables. I think [it is] highly significant for the family and it might well change things."
Ahern told the US he was adamant that members of the British security forces were involved in Finucane's murder. The cable said: "The taoiseach said that the GOI wants the UK to provide evidence acknowledging its involvement in Finucane's murder and it wants to know how high in the UK government collusion went. He said if the UK were to provide the information, it would only grab the headlines for a few hours because 'everyone knows the UK was involved'."
A year earlier, US diplomats raised fears that some forces in British were determined to block an inquiry. A cable by the same ambassador on 26 July 2004 quoted Ahern as saying: "Tony [Blair] knows what he has to do." An explanatory comment inserted by the US ambassador noted: "Presumably, that the PM will have to overrule elements of the security-legal establishments to see that some form of public inquiry is held." The elements resisting an inquiry could be the old Royal Ulster Constabulary Special Branch and British military intelligence.
Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington, a former commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, concluded in a report in 2003 that members of the security forces had colluded in the murder of Finucane.
Several members of the UFF involved in the murder turned out to have been either agents or informers for the security services.
Meanwhile, Paterson told Geraldine Finucane that he has an "open mind" on whether to hold a public inquiry.
David Cameron told MPs in June – on the day he published findings of the £200m inquiry into the 1972 Bloody Sunday shootings – that there would be "no more open-ended and costly inquiries into the past", though he added that each case would be considered on its merits.
In his letter to Finucane's widow, Paterson said that the factors influencing his decision would include: "the commitment made to parliament by the previous government in 2004", "the experience of the other inquiries established after the Weston Park commitments", "political developments", "the potential length of any inquiry" and "the potential cost of an inquiry and the current pressures on the UK government's finances".
"It is my intention to consider the public interest carefully and in detail at the end of the two month period for representations," he informed Geraldine Finucane, "and then take a decision after such consideration as to whether or not to hold a public inquiry into the death of your husband."
Officials in the UK believe a public inquiry would raise difficult questions for the military but not for MI5. To win MI5's support, Blair made two key changes to the legislation governing public inquiries to prevent investigation beyond the official files it has been granted.
Alex Attwood, an SDLP minister in the Northern Ireland executive, said last night he regarded the decision of Mitchell Reiss to highlight the MI5 offer as potentially significant.
"Mitchell Reiss very much understood and had the measure of London," Attwood said. "He was not going to buy a pig in a poke."
inquiry calls after WikiLeaks claims
Calls for an independent international inquiry into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane have been renewed, after WikiLeaks released documents claiming MI5 offered to hand over secret files on the killing.
Mr Finucane was gunned down by a UFF gang in front of his wife at children, in his north Belfast home in 1989. He was shot 14 times, in what remains one of the most controversial murders of the Troubles.
His family wants a Bloody Sunday style independent inquiry into allegations of collusion between the loyalist killers and security forces.
According to the leaked cables, published by the Guardian newspaper, former Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern told US diplomats that "everyone knows the UK was involved" in the murder.
A spokesperson for the Finucane family told UTV: "The family is still considering the newspaper report and want to see any other original material and make efforts to see if there are any other revelations."
Calling for full disclosure of all information about Mr Finucane's killing, SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie said: "This acknowledgement that MI5 have files on the case raises a number of important issues. Firstly, the very fact they have files on the Finucane case begs the question why do they have them and what is in them?
"And secondly there are further questions to be asked why MI5 are in possession of intelligence that perhaps the PSNI are not."
Ms Ritchie added: "The SDLP will always remain vigilant about any partial disclosure or attempts to suppress information or clean files prior to publication, as this is a distinct possibility under current legislation.
"The SDLP's priority is for the Finucane family to get the truth and justice they seek and deserve. The only way to achieve this is for full disclosure of any relevant information to the case.
"A censored inquiry will not be accepted."
The apparent offer by MI5, to hand over secret files to any public inquiry, came after a meeting between US envoy to Ireland Mitchell Reiss and the then head of MI5 Eliza Manningham Buller.
She reportedly told Mr Reiss she would be willing to hand over MI5's case files to any public inquiry, but she wanted it to proceed under the terms of new legislation introduced in 2005.
Part of that legislation allows for sensitive materials to be withheld from any final report published by the inquiry.
Sinn Féin MLA for North Belfast Gerry Kelly said that reports gave further weight to the family's campaign for a full inquiry.
"The British State has to date never acknowledged holding files and information into the murder of Pat Finucane. Instead they have hidden behind a long standing campaign of concealment and cover-up," he said.
"The revelations that MI5 are holding files directly related to the murder of Pat Finucane and that the Inquiries Act 2005 was initiated at their insistence, to prevent the truth from being revealed, adds significant further weight to the family demand for a fully independent international inquiry into the murder.
"That is what the British government agreed and that is what the British government must deliver."
Secretary of State Owen Paterson will announce early next year if an inquiry is to be held and, if so, under what terms.
us the truth about Pat Finucane
Comment is free - Beatrix Campbell
For real reconciliation, we need acknowledgement of British security services' relationship with loyalism during the Troubles
Is a new spirit of transparency and accountability implied by the WikiLeaks revelation that MI5 offered in 2005 to share its secret files on state collusion with loyalist hitmen to assassinate the Belfast human rights lawyer Pat Finucane in 1989?
I don't think so. That offer was made under pressure from Dublin and Washington, which tried valiantly to persuade the British government to call a public inquiry into the killing.
It was made after the loyalists themselves had displayed caches of security services documents on Catholic citizens. It was after London, Washington and Dublin had been given the names of the culprits – revealed in a dossier delivered to governments by the redoubtable British Irish Rights Watch a decade after Finucane's death.
The MI5 offer came after marathon investigations by the former Metropolitan police commissioner Lord John Stevens. He concluded in 2003 that there had been collusion. But his report on Finucane has never been published.
It came after Peter Cory, a judge of international standing appointed to look into collusion, discovered in a matter of months secret records on Finucane that had eluded Stevens. And it came after his dossier, Cory Collusion Inquiry Report: Patrick Finucane, was belatedly published in April 2004 – again under pressure from Dublin.
Cory revealed that the security services had been keeping files on Finucane from 1981, files that in 1988 recorded plans to kill him. MI5 offered to release the files, but only if the government itself controlled the public inquiry.
This was assured by Tony Blair's decision – provoked by the Finucane case – to change the law on public inquiries. The new Inquiries Act rushed through parliament in 2005 guaranteed that the government could restrict the scope of any inquiry into Finucane's death. That is why his relatives – with Cory's support – have so far refused to co-operate.
If MI5 is ready to open its books on this execution that exposed Britain's counter-insurgency system in Northern Ireland, then it is no doubt because it has felt confident that it could divert attention away from itself and point the finger at the police and the army.
The police Special Branch and the army's special squad, the Force Research Unit, were all involved in the murderous conspiracy.
Briefings by the security services against Finucane and other Northern Ireland lawyers went – via the Joint Intelligence Committee – all the way to the top, to Downing Street. MI5 hopes to take control of a narrative that was inevitably bleeding beyond the security elite's capacity for damage limitation.
When a state sanctions the killing of citizens, in particular citizens who are lawyers, it puts the rule of law and democracy in jeopardy. And when a state enlists auxiliary assassins, it cedes its monopoly over state secrets: it may feel omnipotent, but it is also vulnerable to disclosure.
This episode reminds us why we need truth and reconciliation processes: there has been no acknowledgement of the British security services' symbiotic relationship with loyalism during the 30-year armed conflict.
The coalition's secretary of state for Northern Ireland, Owen Paterson, is inclined to set up a public inquiry into Finucane. We must insist that it is fully public, that it sees not only those MI5 files, but the trail within government, so that it can investigate collusion not as an event but as a system.
hopes of Finucane inquiry
The family of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane have taken part in talks with the Government which could lead to a public inquiry into the infamous killing
Mr Finucane was murdered in 1989 - The Army, police and intelligence service have been implicated in the, which was carried out by loyalist paramilitaries who doubled as security force agents.
Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson revealed the latest development in the House of Commons.
It follows years of deadlock over one of the most controversial cases of the Northern Ireland Troubles.
The Finucane family rejected efforts by the previous Labour government to conduct an investigation under the 2005 Inquiries Act and claimed it gave ministers undue influence over the outcome.
Mr Paterson had declared an interest in resolving the Finucane case, but while many observers believed the new Government would opt to draw a line under the issue, details have now emerged of efforts to broker an inquiry acceptable to both sides.
The Northern Ireland Secretary has now announced he has provided more time for discussions to continue.
Mr Paterson said: "In my written statement of November 11, I set out a period of two months during which I would receive representations as to whether it is in the public interest that I should establish a public inquiry into the death of Patrick Finucane.
"As part of this process, my officials have had a constructive meeting with representatives of the Finucane family and a further meeting will be arranged.
"In light of the fact that useful discussions are under way between the family and the Government, I have decided, with the agreement of the family, to extend the period during which I will receive representations by two months.
"When this further period has concluded, it remains my intention to consider the family's views carefully and in detail, along with any other relevant representations I receive, before taking a decision as to whether or not it is in the public interest to hold a public inquiry into the death of Patrick Finucane."
Human rights groups that have spent decades examining the circumstances of the murder believe it could unlock information on the allegations of more widespread collusion between the forces of the state and paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland.
The security forces have often said that maintaining agents inside paramilitary groups was a necessary evil that saved lives during the decades of violence. But critics claim covert efforts to defeat the Provisional IRA cost large numbers of innocent lives.
Sections of the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries labelled the Catholic solicitor an IRA member. The allegation has been denied by the Finucane family, who have said the police and army wrongly associated the lawyer with the alleged crimes of his clients.
of Finucane Inquiry ‘Fundamental’
Statement by Madden & Finucane Solicitors
We refer to the statement of Owen Paterson made today in relation to the extension of time to continue discussions:
The Finucane family have campaigned for 21 years for a public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the murder of Pat. The essence of a proper inquiry is independence. The family’s legal team led by Peter Madden of Madden & Finucane, met with the NIO legal team in London in April last year and the discussions then were worthwhile. However, due to the pending general election at that time, a further meeting was postponed.
The M&F legal team met the Secretary of State’s advisors last Thursday 6 January and again the discussions were constructive.
Peter Madden said: “Although these were constructive and useful meetings, the fact remains that the independence of a tribunal is fundamental. It is hoped that the family’s concerns will be addressed and that a mechanism will be established which would result in a public judicial inquiry fully independent, which will have the support of the Finucane family, and all those who have supported the family in their long campaign.”
Sinn Féin Junior Minister at Stormont and MLA for North Belfast Gerry Kelly called on Owen Paterson to fulfil British government commitments and implement an inquiry into the murder.
Mr Kelly said: “A commitment was made to establish an inquiry into Pat’s murder in 2004 – it is totally unacceptable that the British government is continuing to stall on this issue.
“Pat’s family deserve truth and they deserve justice. The prolonged delay by (the) British secretary of state is completely unacceptable and only delays the process of truth and justice.”
DUP MP Gregory Campbell said: “The announcement by the Secretary of State raises important points.
“There are hundreds of families across Northern Ireland who find themselves in a similar position to this family. The Historical Enquiries Team (HET) has been doing excellent work helping families and we support the HET in its efforts.
“The Secretary of State should be careful that he does not place one case as a higher priority than another.
“In the case of the Ombudsman's Report into the Claudy Bomb very serious public interest issues arose which should be investigated, this was the case with the Omagh bomb likewise.
“Either we have reached the end of "Inquiry Road" or we haven't. If we have and as the Secretary of State has stated there are to be "no more" open-ended inquiries then that should be the end of the matter. If not, then people other than republicans should have their own inquiries.
“People will be asking if Owen Patterson is opening the door to the establishment of yet another multi-million pound Saville Inquiry, the principle beneficiaries of which were lawyers?
“This is a worrying development that appears to contradict earlier statements from this government. The DUP will be raising this matter with the Secretary of State urgently.”
probe could expose more than gunmen
An anxious wait lies ahead as Owen Paterson considers a public inquiry into the 1989 murder, writes Brian Rowan
In Northern Ireland the past still frightens the present - frightens those who were part of the different wars, and frightens some more than others.
And, so, on the Shankill Road, inside the UDA, they will be thinking and wondering about those statements that emerged on Tuesday from Secretary of State Owen Paterson and Madden and Finucane Solicitors.
There is no decision yet on the long-awaited public inquiry into the 1989 murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, but there is a sense that something is happening.
In the background there have been "constructive" discussions, and more time is being allowed to see where those talks end up - two more months to be precise.
Paterson has set out his position: "When this further period has concluded it remains my intention to consider the family's views carefully and in detail, along with any other relevant representations I receive, before taking a decision as to whether or not it is in the public interest to hold a public inquiry into the death of Patrick Finucane."
Solicitor Peter Madden restated the family's position that "the independence of a tribunal is fundamental".
And, now there will be a wait as that talking continues in the background.
The UDA was still legal when its gunmen killed Pat Finucane, and there are still people in the most senior positions of that organisation who will know the fine detail of the shooting.
They will know everything; who was involved in intelligence gathering, who provided the guns, who drove the car, who pulled the trigger, where the gunmen left from and where they returned to.
But any inquiry will want to look not just at those things, but into a much wider frame.
"There are very few remaining questions about what actually happened that night," Paul O'Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre said.
"That information has been available to the authorities, some of it before the murder even took place," he continued.
"I think the key question around any inquiry is going to be around the issue of command responsibility - how much was known by government, military, security services and police at a senior level."
Many see the UDA as a puppet in the murder and believe the prompting came from elsewhere. Exploring this thinking will be the real work of any inquiry.
Loyalists will talk about most things, but not about that shooting. Inside the UDA all sorts of people were at play in the plot, among them Brian Nelson who was working for the Army, and Special Branch informers William Stobie and 'Tucker' Lyttle.
The current UDA 'brigadier' on the Shankill Road and those closest to him will have information and answers should they ever choose to speak.
But that is unlikely.
The one loyalist who did talk - Ken Barrett - is widely believed to have overstated his role.
This is a killing that many believe takes you into that place known as the "dirty war", a story that is not just about the UDA, but that has other hidden hands.
It is not just about who shot Pat Finucane, but why he was shot, and who wanted him dead.
There are those who have read Tuesday's statement by the Secretary of State as yet more stalling, but maybe they are wrong, and perhaps something is beginning to move.
What if Owen Paterson decided there shouldn't be an inquiry - how could that be explained?
For many that type of decision would simply confirm a cover-up - of a truth too ugly to be told.
Cory wants answered
By Barry McCaffrey
The family of Pat Finucane have waited seven and a half years for the British government to abide by its public commitment to hold an inquiry into allegations of security force collusion in the solicitor’s murder.
In April 2004 retired Canadian judge Peter Cory published a report into the solicitor’s 1989 murder which showed beyond doubt that members of the security forces had actively colluded with loyalist paramilitaries in the killing.
But Judge Cory’s report revealed a much wider and systematic failure of the security forces, who he found had repeatedly failed to inform the father-of-three that his life was in danger in the 10 years before his death.
Security chiefs failed to warn solicitor about death threats
The report revealed how the RUC and MI5 had prior knowledge of three previous loyalist plots to murder Mr Finucane, but chose not to inform him of any of the threats.
The report found that the British army, Special Branch and MI5 knew the UDA was planning to kill the solicitor in 1981, 1985 and seven weeks before he was murdered on February 12 1989.
However, the intelligence agencies chose not to warn Mr Finucane that his life was in imminent danger, insisting it would jeopardise the life of an undercover agent.
Referring to the failure to warn the father of three of the threats, Judge Cory said:
“This is an indication that both the Security Service (MI5) and RUC Special Branch saw agent security as taking precedence over the need to warn a targeted individual that his life was at risk.”
Special Branch failed to give warnings in 20 other attacks
Judge Cory also found evidence that Special Branch knew of 20 other planned attacks by the UDA – some of which resulted in murder – but also failed to warn the individuals.
The UDA had planned to attack, among others, a priest and two solicitors. The plot against the solicitors, PJ McGrory and Oliver Kelly, came less than a week after Mr Finucane’s murder.
However, it is in the murder of Mr Finucane that Judge Cory was most damning of Northern Ireland’s intelligence agencies.
Mr Cory found that the police investigation had received “little cooperation” from either the British army or RUC Special Branch who, the report found, had withheld evidence which would have implicated their agents in the solicitor’s murder.
Evidence destroyed in Finucane murder inquiry
The report also found police had failed to preserve potential evidence taken from the getaway car used in Mr Finucane’s murder.
Despite being informed of the location of one of the murder weapons, police also made “no serious effort” to retrieve the gun for potential forensic examination.
Force Research Unit (FRU) agent Brian Nelson was the key figure to have been protected because of his role in Pat Finucane’s murder.
The report concluded that Nelson’s army handlers not only knew he was targeting nationalists, but also actively helped him in intelligence gathering.
“After Nelson’s re-recruitment there is no doubt that FRU understood he was targeting individuals for the UDA and that this was his prime function,” the report stated.
“Very often, the concern was, not with the illegality of Nelson’s actions, but rather the fear that he might get caught and thereby compromise his security.”
Judge found `unfortunate attitude’ among Special Branch
Although Pat Finucane was not connected to any paramilitary group, both Special Branch and FRU kept separate files on the solicitor.
Judge Cory found there was an “unfortunate attitude” among some members of Special Branch during 1988/89.
“In some instances Special Branch failed to take any steps to prevent actual or planned attacks on persons targeted by loyalist terrorist groups.
“This was even though the details of several of these targeting operations were known for some time.”
Mr Cory found that despite warnings of planned UDA attacks, Special Branch paid “virtually no attention”.
Special Branch ignored UDA threat book
Referring to a procedure in which Special Branch officers were supposed to record all potential paramilitary attacks in a file known as the ‘Threats Book’, Judge Cory stated:
“It was exceedingly rare for the Threats Book to record any targeting carried out by the UDA.
“This is very different from the numerous entries documenting PIRA threats and the steps taken by Special Branch to court republican terrorist activities.
“The Threats Book raises questions with regard to the attitude of the RUC as it relates to identifying the perceived enemy and the conduct of their police work.”
Concluding that Special Branch perceived the threat from republicans to be more “deserving of attention” than loyalists, Mr Cory said:
“On those rare occasions that UDA threats were recorded, they did not generally result in any preventative measures.”
Only on one occasion did Special Branch warn a Catholic taxi driver that the UDA was planning to kill him.
“This discrepancy in the treatment of PIRA and UDA targets may be indicative of a selective, perhaps subconscious, bias on the part of Special Branch,” the report said.
“It may well be that only a portion of the population was receiving effective protection against the threat of terrorist violence.”
When Nelson’s role in the murder of Pat Finucane and others was uncovered in 1990, Special Branch and FRU were said to have attempted to thwart any inquiry.
Judge Cory found: "The wilful concealment of pertinent evidence, and the failure to cooperate with the Stevens inquiry, can be seen as further evidence of the unfortunate attitude that then persisted within RUC Special Branch and FRU.
“Namely, that they were not bound by the law and were above and beyond its reaches.”
The report also raised concerns over FRU’s Brigadier Gordon Kerr’s assertion at Brian Nelson’s trial in 1992 that his agent had saved 217 lives.
Judge Cory found the claim was based on a “highly dubious numerical analysis that cannot be supported on any basis”.
In fact Brian Nelson’s activities were only said to have led to one life being saved.
On that occasion, FRU was forced to saturate the area of the planned attack when it was discovered Nelson was driving the murder car.
Army chiefs turned a `blind eye’ to agents’ involvement in murder
Judge Cory claimed that Nelson’s FRU handlers and their superiors operated a policy of “turning a blind eye” in relations to their agents’ involvement in murder.
“The documents either in themselves or taken cumulatively can be taken to indicate that FRU committed acts of collusion.”
The report concluded that Special Branch’s failure to act upon, or even pass on, known threats to Pat Finucane, the failure to make any serious effort to recover one of the murder weapons, and the withholding of vital information from the murder inquiry, could all constitute collusive acts.
While finding that each of these acts could constitute an act of collusion in itself, Judge Cory stated:
“Considered together, they clearly indicate to me that there is strong evidence that collusive acts were committed by the army (FRU), RUC Special Branch and the Security Service (MI5).”
Recommending a public inquiry into security force involvement in the events surrounding Pat Finucane’s murder, Judge Cory stated:
“If, as I have found, there is evidence which could be found to constitute collusion then the community at large would, undoubtedly, like to see the issue resolved quickly.
“This is essential if the public confidence in the police, army and the administration of justice is to be restored.
“In this case only a public inquiry will suffice.”
likely to lead Pat Finucane killing inquiry
The family of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane will today hear the Government’s proposals for an inquiry into the 1989 killing, a loyalist shooting that sparked claims of collusion.
In a London meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron and Secretary of State Owen Paterson, the family is expected to be told that an eminent QC will be appointed to lead the investigation.
“The meeting is the climax of a year’s engagement,” John Finucane, son of the murdered solicitor, said. “We haven’t been given any firm promise, but I’m hopeful we will be offered something the family can engage in,” he added.
Mr Finucane, his brother Michael, sister Katherine, mother Geraldine and uncles Seamus and Martin Finucane are travelling to London with family solicitor Peter Madden.
The case has already been examined by Canadian Judge Peter Cory and former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Stevens.
In a damning report, he said the murder could have been prevented and there was collusion.
The inquiry due to be announced by the Government will look beyond those directly involved in the shooting and will examine the role of agents working for both the Army and RUC Special Branch, including Brian Nelson and William Stobie.
Paul O’Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre said: “I think the key test is to explore and uncover the role of FRU (the Army’s Force Research Unit) and Special Branch in all the issues surrounding the murder of Pat Finucane. We have to understand who was aware of this from the perspective of command responsibility.
“Who was aware of the role of the Army agent Brian Nelson at the level of civil servants in Whitehall and their political masters?”
Asked if he was hopeful that an inquiry will be able to get to the answers, Mr O’Connor said: “I have enough faith in the Finucane family that whatever decision they make following their meeting with the Prime Minister will be the correct one.”
Pat Finucane was shot dead by the UDA in front of his family at his north Belfast home in February 1989.
family cut short David Cameron meeting
The government has ruled out an inquiry into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.
His family, who met David Cameron in Downing Street, said they felt angry and insulted at his proposal for a leading QC to review the case.
Geraldine Finucane, Pat Finucane's widow, told reporters outside No 10 she felt so angry she could hardly speak.
Mr Finucane was shot in 1989 by loyalist paramilitaries at his north Belfast home.
The family called a halt to Tuesday's meeting and said they would continue their campaign for an independent public inquiry and would not participate in the review.
The government has asked QC Desmond DeSilva to review the papers in the case.
When he was prime minister, Tony Blair agreed to set up an inquiry but a fresh investigation was never established.
Mr Finucane's family have long campaigned to have one put in place.
Mrs Finucane said: "He (David Cameron) is offering a review. He wants a QC to read the papers in my husband's case and that is how he expects to reach the truth.
"All of us are very upset and very disappointed."
The family have said they want an inquiry that is public, effective and independent.
Before the meeting, the government said they hoped the Finucane family would be satisfied with their response.
In 2004, the then Northern Ireland Secretary of State Paul Murphy announced his intention to hold an inquiry under the new Inquiries Act.
The Finucane family are opposed to the probe being held under this legislation, which they say makes the inquiry accountable to the minister responsible, rather than to parliament.
SDLP justice spokesperson Alban Maginness has said the decision was "unacceptable" and accused David Cameron of raising the family's hopes.
"After all this length of time one would have expected better from the British Government and Prime Minister on an issue that runs deep into the British military and security complex," he added.
murder was one of NI's most controversial killings
The murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane in February 1989 was without doubt one of the most controversial killings during the Troubles.
It was not only the brutality of the Ulster Freedom Fighters attack - the lawyer was shot 14 times in front of his wife and three children whilst the family sat at the dinner table in their north Belfast home.
It was also the high profile of Pat Finucane and the immediate suspicion that elements in the security forces had colluded with his loyalist paramilitary killers.
Mr Finucane represented clients, such as IRA hunger strikers, and families involved in shoot to kill allegations against the police.
The year before he died he defended the former hunger striker Pat McGeown, charged with helping organise the murder of two Army corporals who drove into an IRA funeral cortege in west Belfast.
Mr Finucane succeeded in getting the charges against his client dropped.
However it's claimed a double agent passed a photograph of the solicitor taken outside the court to the UFF gunman who carried out his murder.
The double agent was Brian Nelson, who compiled information on potential targets for the UFF whilst at the same time working for British army intelligence.
The gunman was Ken Barrett, who later told the BBC Panorama programme he had carried out 10 loyalist murders.
Barrett was found guilty of Pat Finucane's murder in 2004.
Two years previously he told Panorama's John Ware, in a secretly recorded conversation, that a police officer had suggested he target the lawyer.
"To be honest," claimed Barrett, "Finucane would have been alive today if the peelers hadn't interfered... solicitors were kind of way taboo, if you know what I mean? We used a lot of Roman Catholic solicitors ourselves, they were taboo.. you didn't touch them."
Admitting his murder, the UFF claimed the lawyer was an IRA officer.
Three of his brothers were in the IRA, but the Finucane family has always insisted the solicitor was not an IRA member and had been targeted purely because of his dedication to his legal work.
The solicitor's son, Michael Finucane, described the claim as "an insult" saying his killers' "limited mentality did not stretch to differentiating between the role of the lawyer and the offence suspected of the client".
Charges related to the murder had also previously been brought against another loyalist and Special Branch agent William Stobie, suspected of supplying the guns used in the attack.
The case against Stobie collapsed in 2001, but he didn't live long to enjoy his freedom - within weeks loyalist gunmen shot him dead.
Although the former Metropolitan police chief Lord Stevens found there was collusion in the murder, Pat Finucane's family always insisted only a full inquiry would determine how high up the chain of command responsibility ran.
The case featured in the negotiations on restoring devolution at Stormont and Tony Blair promised to set up an inquiry.
However the Finucane family believed the law under which it would operate - the 2005 Inquiries Act - would enable the government to interfere and suppress unwelcome details.
The Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson engaged in talks with the family to try to resolve the stand off.
However, David Cameron's offer of a senior lawyer to review the case papers, far from resolving the matter appears to have only deepened the rift between the Finucanes and Number 10.
Pat Finucane Centre response
Reacting to the outcome of the meeting this afternoon with British Prime Minister David Cameron the PFC shares the shock and concern of the Finucane family at the news that no public inquiry is to be held into the 1989 murder:
“The family have campaigned long and hard for an inquiry into the murder of Pat. They were told that a public inquiry would be set up by the British Government. The Irish Government was told that a Public Inquiry would be set up.
Instead the PM has told the family that a QC, Sir Desmond da Silva, will be asked to ‘review’ the available papers and then brief the family. This is an extraordinary turnaround which we find incomprehensible and unacceptable. We understand that the family will not cooperate in any shape or fashion with this ‘review’.
At the meeting they were told that this was the “best way forward”. This may be true for the security forces and agencies who wish to conceal the truth. It is certainly not the best way forward for the family.
It was claimed that witnesses are not ‘available’ and that this would negate the effectiveness of any inquiry. This is a shabby and scandalous excuse.
It is absolutely vital that any inquiry be allowed to delve into the involvement of the British Army Force Research Unit, RUC Special Branch and the Security Service MI5 in the murder. Britain is failing to honour the commitment it made at Weston Park to implement the recommendations of Judge Cory, the Canadian judge appointed by the two governments to evaluate the evidence in a number of contentious cases. He recommended a Public Inquiry into the murder.
Pat Finucane received death threats from members of the RUC. Using parliamentary privilege only weeks before the murder a Conservative Government minister accused members of the legal profession of being close to the IRA thus setting the scene for loyalist attacks on lawyers. Both RUC and FRU agents were involved in the murder of Pat Finucane. On February 12 1989 Pat was murdered in front of his family.
Those who would argue that the above facts are a not a matter for Public Inquiry should consider the words of Geraldine Finucane:
“I believe that it is a mistake to ignore cases of serious concern just because they are in the past. I believe the only way our society can move forward into a peaceful future is by examining the controversies of our past and exposing them fully for all to see. I believe this creates foundations of confidence, upon which a lasting peace can be built.”
Sinn Féin: Adams raises Finucane case in Dáil
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has accused the British government of being in breach of the Weston Park agreement on inquiries.
Mr Adams today raised the issue of an inquiry into the Pat Finucane case during Leaders Questions in the Dáil and he urged the Irish government to make clear to the British Prime Minister “that the Irish government supports the family and that nothing less than the enquiry they are demanding is acceptable to the Irish government.”
The Sinn Féin leader told the Dáil that he had just spoken to one of the Finucane family members who had been at the meeting at lunchtime with David Cameron.
Mr Adams said that the family “are devastated and hugely upset by the refusal of the British government to honour the Weston Park agreement and to establish an inquiry into the murder of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane.
“The British and Irish governments agreed at Weston Park to set up an inquiry by retired Canadian Judge Cory to look at four specific cases where it was alleged that collusion had occurred between British forces and loyalist death squads.
“These were Rosemary Nelson, Billy Wright and Robert Hamill and Pat Finucane.
“Judge Cory concluded that inquiries were necessary in all of these cases but in particular that of Pat Finucane. Three of these inquiries have now taken place.
“The enquiry into Pat Finucane has not taken place and the family went to today’s meeting believing, on foot of discussions they had held with British officials, that an enquiry was to be established.
“Instead they were told that a QC would be appointed to review the papers and speak to those involved. He would then come to a conclusion.
“No enquiry. No legal redress for the family. No access to papers or witnesses, or an opportunity to cross examine.
“In short the family have been offered less than the Cory inquiry and what was agreed at Weston Park.
“This is a clear breach by the British government of an agreement with the Irish government and the rest of us.
“If flies in the face of the huge support given to the family by the government here, by the UN, by Amnesty International and a host of international agencies and political leaders, including in Washington.
“The Irish government needs to make it clear to the British government that it supports the family and that nothing less than the inquiry they are demanding is acceptable to the Irish government.”
Concluding Mr Adams said:
“The nub of this issue and what explains the British reluctance to hold this inquiry, is that the Pat Finucane case illustrates the extent to which collusion went on between British State forces and loyalist death squads.
“This British government had no part in that collusion and thus Mr Cameron should be liberated to do what was promised at Weston Park and to the family. He has failed.
“The Irish government needs to press the British government and to do so with all urgency, to hold the full inquiry promised ten years ago at Weston Park.”
Amnesty brands refusal of inquiry in Finucane case 'shameful'
Amnesty International has slammed the government’s proposed review of the case files in the killing of Belfast solicitor Patrick Finucane, announced today. In the more than 20 years since Patrick Finucane’s murder, Amnesty International has vigorously supported his family’s campaign for an independent inquiry into all the circumstances of his death, including into credible evidence that UK state agents colluded in his killing.
Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland Programme Director, said:
“That Patrick Finucane’s family has been kept in the dark so long is an outrage. That the government has proposed another pointless review of case files, instead of the independent, transparent inquiry they deserve, is a shameful decision, not to mention a dereliction of duty under International law.
“It is to the disgrace of the UK government that, over 20 years on from the murder of Patrick Finucane, the truth about his killing is still being kept from his family and from the public. It is doubly shameful given the profound failures to investigate that were identified by both the Cory Collusion Inquiry and the European Court of Human Rights.
“The loss of a husband, father and son has been compounded by the failure of successive governments to implement an inquiry which makes its findings public and which has the independence to explore the extensive evidence that this killing of a criminal defence lawyer may have taken place with the collusion of the state.
“It is to their shame that this government has joined the ranks of its predecessors in shirking their duty to the Finucanes and to justice.”
In a public statement earlier this week Patrick Finucane’s widow, Geraldine Finucane, said:
“My family and I have campaigned for a long time for a public inquiry. However, we are not prepared to settle for just any form of inquiry. How the process operates is just as important as the establishment of one.”
Amnesty International has long supported the Finucane family’s campaign for justice and, in 2005, Amnesty led a worldwide campaign calling on judges to boycott any non-independent inquiry into Mr Finucane’s murder held under the Inquiries Act 2005.
The review proposed today, to be headed by a QC, is reported to be simply a review of the case files without the effective participation of Patrick Finucane’s family, which falls far short of the effective, thorough and independent inquiry required.
Patrick Finucane was murdered at his home in Belfast on 12 February 1989. Responsibility for the killing was claimed by an armed group, the Ulster Defence Association/Ulster Freedom Fighters (UDA/UFF).
In the aftermath of Patrick Finucane’s death, extensive and compelling evidence began to emerge that his killing took place within the context of widespread state collusion with armed groups. Since then, further evidence has given rise to strong suspicions that numerous state agencies may have played a part in attempting to cover up state collusion in his murder.
In May 2002, the UK and Irish governments appointed Justice Peter Cory - a former Canadian Supreme Court Judge - to investigate a number of killings in which government security forces were reported to be involved, including the killing of Patrick Finucane.
Justice Cory submitted his reports in October 2003, but it was not until six months later that the UK authorities finally published them, simultaneously announcing the creation of public inquiries into three other cases. However, they refused to announce a public inquiry into Patrick Fincuane's case despite Justice Cory's unequivocal conclusion that, in the case of Patrick Finucane, "only a public inquiry will suffice".
Kenneth Barrett, a former loyalist paramilitary, was convicted in 2003 of the murder of Patrick Finucane. Since he had pleaded guilty to 12 charges, including that of the murder of Patrick Finucane, no significant information about alleged state collusion in the killing or about the alleged subsequent official cover-up emerged in court.
In July 2003 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that “the proceedings following the death of Patrick Finucane failed to provide a prompt and effective investigation into the allegations of collusion by security personnel” , and that there had therefore been a violation of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights in his case.
Also in 2003 Sir John Stevens, a senior UK police officer who carried out three inquiries into allegations of collusion between the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland, confirmed that his investigations had uncovered evidence of “collusion, the willful failure to keep records, the absence of accountability, the withholding of intelligence and evidence, and the extreme of agents being involved in murder”. The full findings of the investigations conducted by John Stevens have, however, remained secret, not only from the public but also from the Finucane family and their lawyers.
In June 2007, following an extremely lengthy delay, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for Northern Ireland announced that no further charges would be brought following the review of the material submitted by the third investigation conducted by Sir John Stevens (‘Stevens III’).
Throughout this time the family of Patrick Finucane had campaigned tirelessly for a genuinely independent public inquiry into the circumstances of his death.
Geraldine Finucane statement
“My family and I were invited to Downing Street by the Prime Minister to hear the decision of the Government about holding a public inquiry into the murder of my husband, Pat Finucane. I have been to meetings in 10 Downing Street before but this is the first time I have been invited by a Prime Minster. I was hopeful and optimistic about today’s meeting. I thought David Cameron intended to show courage and leadership on this issue. I thought he would confirm that his Government would establish a public inquiry. I dared to believe we might finally get the inquiry recommended by Judge Peter Cory in 2004.
I now know that courage and leadership on the issue of Pat’s murder remains absent. The Prime Minister said he did not intend to hold a public inquiry. Instead, he proposed a review of the case by a senior QC selected by the British Government.
After 23 years of campaigning, 23 years of questions, 23 years of travelling the world gathering support for a public inquiry into Pat’s murder, the offer of a ‘review of the papers’ is nothing less than an insult. My family and I were lured to Downing Street under false pretences. We thought we were going to be given the inquiry that was promised. Instead, the Government intends to do even less in Pat’s case than in the other cases that were part of the Cory process.
My family will not be allowed to participate in this review. We will not be permitted to question witnesses. We will not be given copies of documents. In short, we are being asked to accept the result of a process from which we are completely excluded. We are being asked to trust the British Government. We were told that we should accept Mr. Cameron’s assurance that this ‘review of the papers’ will get to the truth.
After 23 years, my family and I are beyond taking any British Prime Minister’s word for anything. We have no hesitation in rejecting this sham proposal and will not be participating in it under any circumstances. It is a shoddy, half-hearted alternative to a proper public inquiry. It is not what we have sought for the last 23 years. It represents yet another broken promise by the British Government who still fear a public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane and cannot bring themselves to uncover or confront the truth.”
family anger over inquiry snub
The family of Pat Finucane have spoke of their anger after the Prime Minister ruled out a public inquiry into the loyalist murder of the Catholic solicitor.
Relatives, who met David Cameron in London on Tuesday afternoon, were expecting to hear that a public inquiry would be held into his death.
However, an 18-month long QC-led review into the circumstances of his murder has been offered instead.
Mr Finucane was gunned down by loyalist paramilitaries in front of his wife and children in his north Belfast home in 1989.
His family wanted a Bloody Sunday-style independent inquiry into allegations of collusion between the killers and security forces.
They travelled to London to meet Secretary of State Owen Paterson and Mr Cameron to find out if an inquiry would be held and, if granted, under what terms.
Mr Finucane's widow, Geraldine, says she was insulted by what was offered by the PM and called a halt to the meeting.
'I'm so angry, I can barely speak," she told reporters outside 10 Downing Street.
Mrs Finucane said she could not understand how "yet another review of papers" could be justified.
"The family will not be involved at all. He is offering a review. He wants a QC to read the papers in my husband's case and that is how he expects to reach the truth."
Retired Canadian judge Peter Cory, who examined allegations of collusion surrounding the Finucane and other controversial killings at the request of the British and Irish governments, recommended a public inquiry into the death.
Mr Finucane's son, Michael, who also attended Tuesday's meeting, accused the Prime Minister of "reneging on a commitment that the previous government made to hold a public inquiry".
He said that Mr Cameron had given the "feeble" explanation that public inquiries had not worked in similar cases.
"He seemed oblivious to the fact that the absence of participation by our family would mean we simply couldn't support what he proposed," he added.
The family said they would not participate in the review and would continue their campaign for a full independent public inquiry.
A Downing Street spokesman said that Mr Cameron told the Finucanes that investigations by Judge Cory and John Stevens, then deputy chief constable of Cambridgeshire Police, demonstrated there had been state collusion in the murder.
"The Prime Minister expressed his profound sympathy for the family and said it was clear from Stevens and Cory that state collusion had taken place in Mr Finucane's murder," a Downing Street spokeswoman said.
"He accepted these conclusions and on behalf of the Government he apologised to the family.
"He confirmed that the Government's priority was to get to the truth in the best and most effective way.
"The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland will set out the details of this process shortly," he said.
SDLP justice spokesperson Alban Maginness has described the decision as unacceptable.
The North Belfast MLA said: "After all this length of time one would have expected better from the British Government and Prime Minister on an issue that runs deep into the British military and security complex.
"It's quite plainly unacceptable to nationalist opinion and in particular to the Finucane family which is rightly insulted by the Prime Minister's offer of a review, rather than a proper judicial and independent inquiry."
Mr Maginness said he wondered why the Prime Minister had "gone out of his way to raise expectations of a proper inquiry only to dash those hopes with his offer of a review."
The Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) said it had been campaigning for an inquiry for 22 years.
Gemma McKeown, Solicitor at CAJ, said: "What the British government has offered the Finucane family is nothing short of insulting. A review, to be carried out by a QC, does not constitute a proper Inquiry that upholds the rule of law.
"CAJ and the international community have campaigned for an inquiry Into Mr Finucane's death for 22 years. It is with shock and grave disappointment that we receive today's news."
She continued: "The question needs to be asked as to what David Cameron and Owen Patterson now know that has made them renege on the commitment to hold a proper Inquiry."
Meanwhile, DUP Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds has welcomed the outcome.
"Everyone understands the desire of relatives to get the full facts about the death of their loved one," Mr Dodds said.
"However, history in Northern Ireland has shown that the kind of expensive open-ended inquiry demanded in some cases has not been able to bring closure for anyone involved and has actually increased community tensions."
He said that it is "extremely unlikely" that a satisfactory outcome could ever be achieved and the offer put forward by the Government is "entirely reasonable."
Cameron renege on Pat Finucane deal?
By Barry McCaffrey
It was on the verge of resolving one of the most controversial murders of the Troubles and securing the backing of Pat Finucane’s family for an agreed inquiry into the solicitor’s murder – so why did the British government instead send them packing?
Geraldine Finucane travelled to Downing Street yesterday believing Prime Minister David Cameron was about to offer a compromise inquiry which would have been acceptable to both her family and the British government but in the event they were offered a behind-the-scenes review of the paperwork by a lawyer – a move the government is bound to have known would only inflame speculation that it has much more to hide in this case.
Mrs Finucane, who has campaigned for more than 20 years for an independent inquiry into allegations that elements of the British government ordered her husband’s murder in 1989, is understood to have been optimistic that an agreement was in sight.
The Detail understands that the government had put forward proposals to the Finucane family during discussions earlier this year in which it promised to establish a public inquiry which would be free from any government attempts to withhold key evidence.
Crucially, it was government lawyers and not the Finucane family, who suggested the compromise, which looked set to resolve the 22-year dispute.
But what unfolded shocked even a family which thought itself well-used to disappointment and cover-up.
Cameron entered the room, accompanied by the Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson and Cameron’s private secretary. Cameron got straight down to business and, initially, things looked promising, according to John Finucane:
“He came into the room and apologised to us on behalf of the British government for the collusion in my father’s murder.
“He also apologised for all the delays and broken promises which successive British governments have made to us for the last 10 years.
“We fully expected at that point that he was going to announce to us that he was going to allow an inquiry into my father’s murder.
“We had been led to believe for more than a year that this was what was going to happen.
“Instead he proceeded to inform us that he had asked a barrister to review papers in the case and report back to the Secretary of State. It was a total insult.”
A public slapping-down
The meeting was abruptly ended by Geraldine Finucane when it became clear the Prime Minister was determined to rule out any inquiry.
Said John Finucane: “I think Mummy had had enough, she just said she didn’t want to hear anymore.
“She said she wanted the meeting to end.”
Outside 10 Downing Street, Mrs Finucane said her rage was such that she could barely speak.
So where does this surprise development leave the Finucanes?
There has been a predictably angry response from nationalist and human rights quarters, but it’s not clear what, if any momentum the Finucanes can hope to garner to get the inquiry they insist is needed into the murder of Pat Finucane.
Cameron’s handling of this case has surprised those who heaped praise on him for his handling of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry and its findings last year – he unequivocally apologised to the victims and gave his full backing to the work of the inquiry.
His treatment of the Finucanes, in contrast, appears to renege on the international agreement his government made with its Irish counterparts at Weston Park in 2001 to hold an inquiry into the Finucane murder and the murders of Billy Wright, Rosemary Nelson, Robert Hamill and Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan; all the others have taken place, bar the Breen/Buchanan inquiry which is currently running in Dublin.
What have they got to hide?
British/Irish Rights Watch spokeswoman Jane Winter, who took part in the Downing Street meeting, said she was convinced that there are some individuals in the highest echleons of the British establishment who do not want their role in the events surrounding Pat Finucane’s murder to become public.
“I have come to the conclusion that there is something about Patrick Finucane’s death that successive governments have tried to hide and still want to hide,” she said.
“There’s something so utterly damning that they don’t want the public to know.”
Referring to the detailed discussions which had taken place between Downing Street officials and the Finucane’s lawyers, Ms Winter said:
“There have been extensive talks for over a year between the two legal teams.
“All the talk was about what sort of public inquiry could be agreed.
“It certainly was more than what was offered by David Cameron.”
The Government appears to have set its face against any further discussion on the parameters of the Finucane probe. In spite of the family’s clear unwillingness to support the paperwork review, it is pressing ahead regardless as a Downing Street spokesman subsequently made clear:
“The prime minister expressed his profound sympathy for the family and said it was clear from (the) Stevens and Cory (inquiries) that state collusion had taken place in Mr Finucane’s murder and he accepted these conclusions.
“On behalf of the government he apologised to the family.
“He confirmed that the government’s priority was to get to the truth in the best and most effective way and the secretary of state will set out the details for this process shortly.”
A day when expectations
turned to frustration for Finucane family
Brian Rowan reports on a meeting that raised more questions than it answered
When six members of the Finucane family set off on their travels to London yesterday morning they could not have been expecting the news they got in Downing Street.
Pat Finucane’s three children — John, Michael and Katherine —made the journey with their mother Geraldine and uncles Seamus and Martin. The family solicitor Peter Madden was with them, and Jane Winter.
They were in London expecting to hear details of an inquiry, the inquiry they have been demanding and waiting on for more than 20 years.
The details had been a matter of speculation for about a week, and no-one had moved to dampen expectations. No-one had thought it a good idea to prepare the Finucanes for yesterday’s bad news, to get word out that it was not an inquiry, but a review that the Government had decided on.
But not long into the Downing Street meeting the shock was delivered by the PM himself. He was in the room with the Secretary of State and a number of officials.
We can only imagine the anger in Geraldine Finucane’s voice when she asked for the meeting to end after minutes. The family told the Prime Minister to his face that he had “made a mess” of the Pat Finucane affair.
After more than 20 years, all of this happened in a matter of moments.
And one wonders why Mr Cameron and his advisers thought it would be a good idea to bring them to Downing Street — bring them there to let them down.
The Government could have had no expectation that what they were offering was going to be acceptable.
Everyone knows the Finucane bottom line is a public inquiry. And anyone who has followed this case over a period of two decades and more would have known that the family would immediately dismiss the type of review that was proposed — a review the Government believes is the best and most effective way of getting to the truth.
But John Finucane is right. This is a step back from the inquiry proposed by Judge Cory, and the question is why? Who is afraid to put this case under the bright lights of public scrutiny? How ugly is the truth?
And who fears it most — the agents, handlers, the places of Army and Special Branch intelligence, those worlds of high politics, national security and official secrets?
This is a killing that enters the murkiest corners of a dirty war.
When he was Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Lord Stevens reported that the Finucane killing could have been prevented. His work extended beyond the specifics of this shooting, with his three inquiries putting the wider question of collusion under a spotlight.
“Collusion is evidenced in many ways,” he reported in 2003. “This ranges from the wilful failure to keep records, the absence of accountability, the withholding of intelligence and evidence, through to the extreme of agents being involved in murder.”
Had Sinn Fein said it, it would have been dismissed as lies. But the words were written by Britain’s most senior police officer at the time.
“Informants and agents were allowed to operate without effective control and to participate in terrorist crimes,” he wrote.
“Nationalists were known to be targeted, but were not properly warned or protected. Crucial information was withheld from senior investigating officers. Important evidence was neither exploited nor preserved.”
The truth of the Finucane murder would disturb the narrative of the Northern Ireland conflict, would expose the plays of a dirty war, and would ask the most awkward questions of figures in security, intelligence and politics.
Is this why there is no public inquiry? Is this why the Finucanes travelled home from London empty-handed?
slams Govt over Finucane
One of the UK's leading barristers has condemned the government's decision not to hold a public inquiry into the Pat Finucane murder.
The Prime Minister told the Finucane family on Tuesday that he had, instead, appointed senior lawyer, Sir Desmond de Silva QC, to investigate the 1989 killing.
He will be based in London and will not have the power to summon witnesses.
Michael Mansfield QC said the decision was a "travesty".
"I think it is a flagrant breach of trust," Mr Mansfield said. "The family have approached this with considerable dignity and considerable restraint over the years.
"Remember that this family was promised a public inquiry. It was first held out to them by Prime Minister, Tony Blair, at the time of the peace process.
"The undertaking was that, if collusion was shown to have taken place between state agencies and those responsible for pulling the trigger, then there would be an inquiry."
He said the review by Sir Desmond de Silva would be a "complete waste of time and money".
Pat Finucane, a Belfast solicitor, was shot dead by the UFF at his home 22 years ago.
Ken Barrett, who was convicted of murdering Mr Finucane, told the BBC's Panorama programme that a police officer suggested the lawyer should be killed.
Mr Mansfield said the Pat Finucane murder had caused successive British governments grave embarrassment.
"From the beginning there never has been any real commitment to making sure it (an independent inquiry) took place," he said.
"I think the reason for that is that the collusion was severe and there is a desire to ensure that the real truth doesn't come out.
"This approach is non-existent; it's just a hopeless situation. I think if the Finucanes stick with it, they will get an inquiry in the end. It may take a longer time, but it'll happen in the end because the truth will come out. They should not give up because that's what governments want: families to give up."
Government is so keen to let sleeping dogs lie
Cameron's coalition are afraid of what an inquiry into Pat Finucane's murder might reveal, says Brian Rowan
At the time of the Pat Finucane murder back in 1989, one of the most senior UDA figures was Tommy 'Tucker' Lyttle. He carried the paramilitary rank of 'brigadier' and was part of a self-styled 'inner council'.
One of his closest associates was Brian Nelson, an Army agent and collator of UDA intelligence - the targeting and killing information.
In that period of the 1980s the loyalist leadership was being re-structured. John McMichael had been killed in an IRA bomb attack and Andy Tyrie had been removed as so-called 'supreme commander' in an internal coup. It was at this time, a little over 20 years ago, that Jackie McDonald first got a seat at the top table of the UDA.
But who was 'Tucker' Lyttle? And what was his significance?
Lyttle was one of those in our wars, or conflict or Troubles who played on different sides of different lines. He wasn't just a UDA brigadier. It depended on what mirror he was looking into at the time.
Twenty years ago, loyalists were describing him as a Special Branch agent and were suggesting his codename was 'Rodney Stewart'.
One Sunday in August 1989, a third party contacted me with a message: I was being invited to Lyttle's home in the Shankill area of Belfast, where intelligence information would be made available to me.
The UDA was trying to justify one of its killings - the murder of Loughlin Maginn. But there was a condition attached to the invitation: I would have to say that I was taken away by the UDA and given the information. I refused on the basis of the conditions attached.
The period is important, because it is only months after the murder of Pat Finucane and leaks of security material by the UDA would soon lead to the Stevens' collusion investigations.
Lyttle was a player in the leaks, was arrested by the Stevens team and later shunned by the UDA. He has since died.
He is another man from that period - who along with other agents including Nelson and William Stobie - has been buried with his secrets.
Given his leadership position, Lyttle would have had knowledge and detail on the Finucane murder; would have known who was involved and where the coaxing and urging and orders came from.
He was also part of a UDA organisation that was not proscribed until August 1992 - more than three years after the Finucane killing.
And he was from a generation of loyalists who believed they were fighting on the same side as the state against the same enemy.
There were so many of them working for military and Special Branch intelligence, it is easy to understand why they thought that.
The loyalists had handlers, the handlers had managers, but who set the rules of engagement? This is the big question: where does all of this lead?
The answer is into the darkest corners of a filthy war. And this has to be why the Finucane case will not be scrutinised under the bright lights of a public inquiry. It is why his family has been pushed away and let down after a year of background contacts with Government officials - contacts discussing possibilities and terms for an inquiry.
In January this year, I wrote on this page: "What if Owen Paterson decided there shouldn't be an inquiry. How could that be explained? For many, that type of decision would simply confirm a cover-up - of a truth too ugly to be told."
An inquiry is not being refused for reasons of cost. In this climate, that is too convenient an excuse.
There will be no questioning of the agents, the handlers and the managers; no public exploration of those places of national security and official secrets.
And why? Because of what might be shovelled to the surface; information and a pattern of dark activities that might challenge us all to re-think the narrative of the past 40 years.
Finucane: 'I felt so angry and insulted. It was cruel'
The widow of one of the most tragic victims of the Troubles tells David McKittrick of her fury with David Cameron
The anger of the widow of the murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane remains undimmed two weeks after she ended a meeting with David Cameron in which he declined to hold a public inquiry into her husband's death.
Geraldine Finucane indignantly describes the Government and the Prime Minister as "a disreputable government led by a dishonourable man". Mr Cameron apologised to the Finucane family, saying it was clear that there had been "state collusion" in the murder, but turned down the request for an inquiry. Her continuing campaign has since been supported by all major nationalist parties in both parts of Ireland, the Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny declaring they "supported Geraldine Finucane in her search for the truth".
The killing of the lawyer was carried out in a murky underworld of agents and informers where many things remain hidden from public view.
A former senior government official privately admits that it was, among Belfast's many security and intelligence controversies, "the smelliest of them all". Three separate intelligence agencies have been shown to have been active around the murder.
The facts of the 1989 assassination of the solicitor are clear enough. He and his wife Geraldine and their three children were having a meal together on a dark February evening when loyalist gunmen arrived.
Mrs Finucane recalls: "We were having our dinner in the kitchen. Basically they just bludgeoned their way through the front door, came up the hall, came into the kitchen and shot Pat."
A detective superintendent called the killing "the most ferocious murder I have come across". He related: "Every shot seemed to strike home. I believe the gunmen involved had murdered before. They were certainly experienced in the use of weapons."
A post-mortem report reveals the lawyer was shot six times in the head, three times in the neck and three times in the torso. It details the clinical nature of the attack, noting: "Any of the wounds to the head, the neck or the torso would have been fatal."
Today Mrs Finucane still lives in the house where her husband died, using the kitchen where she and her children witnessed his death. Did she ever consider moving house? "They've killed my husband but they're not going to wreck the whole bloody family. This is our home and it will remain our home," she says.
The killing had so many suspicious aspects that calls for an official inquiry have been made for many years. When the shooting happened her children were young: now her two sons are lawyers and she has six grandchildren.
Her face lights up when she talks about the grandchildren, whose colourful toys are piled in one corner of her lounge. But it darkens when she recalls the meeting she and her three children had with Mr Cameron.
They were convinced that a public inquiry was on the cards, but instead he informed them a QC would review the papers in the case and report back in December next year. The QC will have no power to compel witnesses to speak to him.
"I cannot remember the last time I felt so angry," she says. "I felt humiliated and insulted – it was a very cruel, devastating experience."
The family had been in contact with the authorities on numerous occasions over the past year, discussing in detail potential models for an inquiry. One, already used in the case of Baha Mousa, a civilian who died in custody in Iraq, was entirely acceptable.
According to Mrs Finucane, the family's hopes were raised when a senior official called to say "The PM wants to speak to the family himself and I think the family will be very pleased with what they'll hear". Instead, he announced the review.
She says: "I asked David Cameron what part the family would play in this review and he said, 'Oh no, no, you don't do anything.' His tone was, 'Don't you worry your pretty little head about it. When the QC finishes he'll tell you what went on.'
"The air was very charged at that point and we put forward the reasons why a review was totally unsatisfactory. Everybody was very angry and obviously devastated but we retained our composure. Voices were raised but nobody was rude. "I thought there was no point in staying there any longer and I said, 'I can't listen to any more of this, I want this meeting to end.' Afterwards, one of the officials said they were quite shocked."
The family had been banking on the promise of an inquiry made by the last Labour government. So why does she think that, 22 years on, none is forthcoming? "Because of what would be disclosed," is her reply. "They really don't want to air the behaviour of the British government and the military, and the policy that was carried on against its own citizens."
Pat Finucane was a prominent Belfast solicitor whose clients included a number of high-profile IRA members such as the hunger striker Bobby Sands. His successes in the courts caused much resentment among the security forces.
According to his widow: "He was too dangerous. It was rocking the boat and the establishment really didn't like that. If you were troublesome they could just take you out – there was no process of catching you and trying you or anything like that.
"If you were troublesome in any way they just got rid of you. They used the loyalist paramilitaries like a regiment in the army to do their dirty work. Then they would back off and distance themselves from it.
"There were a lot of gunmen in Belfast, probably still are, but at that time they were two a penny. It didn't take much to get a gunman to pull the trigger. The question has always been – who put the gunmen up to it?"
But what evidence is there that official agencies were actually involved in murder or at least turned a blind eye to it? Much information is already in the public domain. Sir John Stevens, later Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, concluded after one of the lengthiest investigations in British police history that there had been collusion.
There was, he said, "Wilful failure to keep records, the withholding of intelligence and evidence, and the extreme of agents being involved in murder so that people have been killed or seriously injured."
Despite solid intelligence that Mr Finucane and others were being targeted, they were not warned, he found. He also said his inquiries were obstructed by the police and army, describing a fire in his incident room as "a deliberate act of arson".
Similar conclusions were reached by a former Canadian judge, Peter Cory, who was tasked by the British and Irish governments with reviewing papers in the case. He recommended a public inquiry after finding strong evidence that collusive acts were committed not just by the police and army but also by MI5.
The judge discovered that MI5 and police had held a meeting to discuss a "very real and imminent" loyalist threat to Mr Finucane's life, but had together decided to take no action. He reported that detectives investigating the killing were not given crucial information, and were not told that one of the murder weapons they were seeking was actually in the keeping of a Special Branch agent.
While this much is already known, much more embarrassing information would be bound to emerge from a public inquiry. Many observers were therefore puzzled by the fact that the Government gave the impression of seriously considering one.
The crucial question is how far up the chain of command collusion might have gone. Mrs Finucane is definite: "It is to be proven," she says, "but I do think it went to the very top of the security and political establishments. They all worked very much in hand. Everybody was informed as to what was going on."
At this moment the chances of an inquiry seem remote, but Mrs Finucane has support from sources such as human rights groups and, significantly, the Irish government. Dublin has conveyed to London its "dissatisfaction and disappointment" with the announced review.
And Enda Kenny told the Irish parliament of a recent conversation with Mr Cameron: "I indicated quite clearly that, if Geraldine was not happy with what was on offer, then clearly we would not be happy either. I haven't changed my mind."
clash in Assembly during Finucane inquiry debate
MLAs have clashed during an assembly motion calling on the government to order a public inquiry into the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane in 1989.
The SDLP put down the motion which said that the government was reneging on commitments to hold an inquiry.
During the debate, DUP MLA Edwin Poots said that a former IRA man had alleged that Mr Finucane was at IRA meetings in a capacity other than as a lawyer.
Both Sinn Fein and the SDLP strongly objected to Mr Poots' comments.
"Former members of the IRA have made particular statements about their interaction with Pat Finucane while they were being cross-examined and while they were being questioned," said Mr Poots, who is thought to have been referring to claims made by former IRA man Sean O'Callaghan.
"The very clear premise of what is being said is that Pat Finucane was not acting purely as a solicitor representing individuals - that he was a solicitor who was acting for an organisation."
Sinn Fein MLA Jennifer McCann joined SDLP representative Conall McDevitt in objecting to Mr Poots' remarks.
"It is outrageous for (him) to make those statements in this house today," Ms McCann said.
"He has no evidence to back up what he is saying."
Mr Finucane was having dinner with his family at his north Belfast home when gunmen from the Ulster Defence Association burst in and shot him.
Following a number of inquiries into the killing, the British government has said it accepts there was collusion in the case but will not support a full public inquiry.
BBC Northern Ireland political editor Mark Devenport said that Mr Poots' comments were likely to anger the Finucane family.
Our correspondent said they echoed remarks made by Home Office minister Douglas Hogg in the House of Commons a week before Mr Finucane's murder.
Following a briefing from the RUC, Mr Hogg said that some solicitors in Northern Ireland were "unduly sympathetic" to the IRA.
The SDLP motion has been amended by Sinn Fein, which is calling for such an inquiry to be held within the next three months.
However, it is subject to a "petition of concern" issued by unionists, which means that it needs cross-community support rather than a basic majority to pass.
The Finucane family walked out of Downing Street last month after the prime minister told them that he had asked Sir Desmond DeSilva to review the papers in the case.
The decision angered the family who have said that only a full public inquiry will satisfy them.
Their position is supported by the SDLP, Sinn Fein and the Irish government.
remarks a disgrace and an abuse of privilege - Gerry Kelly
North Belfast Sinn Féin
MLA Gerry Kelly said that Edwin Poots remarks today in the Assembly
regarding murdered human rights lawyer Pat Finucane were a disgrace
and an abuse of privilege.
reject Pat Finucane inquiry motion
MLAs have voted against a motion calling on the British government to establish a judicial inquiry into the death of lawyer Pat Finucane.
The SDLP tabled a motion noting the government's acceptance of collusion by state agencies on Monday.
The killing of the Belfast solicitor by the loyalist UDA/UFF remains one of the most controversial in 30 years of violence.
He was shot dead in front of his family at his home in 1989.
The SDLP's Alban Maginness said that the need to know the extent of collusion by state agencies with paramilitary groups, and in particular whether collusion was government policy, meant that a judicial review of the Finucane case was important.
An amendment proposed by Sinn Fein sought to establish this judicial inquiry within the next three months.
The DUP's issue of a valid petition of concern required cross-community support for the motion and postponed the vote until the following day, when both were voted down.
Mr Finucane was shot 14 times as he sat eating a Sunday meal at home. His wife was wounded in the attack, which the couple's three children witnessed.
In October 2011 his family rejected Prime Minister David Cameron's proposal of a review conducted by a QC of the case notes of his murder.
supports full Finucane inquiry on first visit to North
Enda Kenny on his first visit to Northern Ireland as Taoiseach last night expressed his support for a full public inquiry into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane and said he would raise the matter with politicians in the US.
Mr Kenny, after earlier visiting the loyalist heartland of east Belfast, met the solicitor’s widow, Geraldine, in the Europa Hotel where he reiterated the Government’s view that a full inquiry must be held.
He spoke to Ms Finucane ahead of the Aisling community service awards where she was honoured as person of the year. Last month the British prime minister, David Cameron, ordered a review of the murder to be carried out by leading British lawyer Sir Desmond de Silva QC.
But he refused a full-scale inquiry that the Finucanes have been demanding for years and that was previously recommended by Canadian judge Peter Cory.
Mr Kenny said while in opposition he had tabled a motion calling for an inquiry “and I stand by that position”. He said he had agreed to follow through on Ms Finucane’s request that he would lobby on the issue with US politicians and European leaders. He said he would continue to press Mr Cameron to change his position and order a public inquiry.
Mr Kenny presented Ms Finucane with her award last night. “She is a person of outstanding courage who is the epitome in many ways of the difficulties that people in Northern Ireland have had to face. I commend her persistence,” he said. The Finucane family said it was “heartened” by the Taoiseach’s comments.
Earlier Mr Kenny paid a courtesy visit to First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at Stormont. He then travelled to loyalist east Belfast where he met community workers and politicians and former loyalist paramilitaries.
On his way into a community building close to the East Belfast Mission on the Newtownards Road, Mr Kenny stopped to shake hands with an elderly man – described as a “local personality” – who asked him, “Are you a f...ing Peeler?”
Mr Kenny was only briefly nonplussed. He then entered the building where he was warmly welcomed by a diverse gathering that included former members of the Ulster Volunteer Force, the Red Hand Commando and Progressive Unionist Party politicians including its new leader, Billy Hutchinson.
family to launch legal bid
The family of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane have confirmed they intend to take legal action against the British Government over the refusal to hold a full public inquiry into his killing.
Mr Finucane was shot dead in front of his wife and three children in February 1989 - the UFF admitted responsibility, but there have been accusations that the paramilitary group colluded with the security forces over the killing.
In October the Finucane family met with Prime minister David Cameron at Downing Street, where he informed them that he would not be holding a public inquiry into the murder.
Instead, Mr Cameron ordered a review of the papers in the case by Sir Desmond de Silva QC.
On Wednesday the Finucane family issued a statement confirming that they intend to launch a challenge to that decision in the courts.
"Not for the first time have we had to resort to legal proceedings to vindicate our legal rights," Mr Finucane's widow Gerladine said on Wednesday.
"It is clear that the British Government have cynically reneged on the commitment made at Weston Park.
"The Cameron decision is also incompatible with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to life ).
"We take the view that the decision not to hold a public judicial inquiry is just another obstacle which we will have to overcome.
"We are determined to get to the truth surrounding my husband's murder. Our campaign will continue."
intervention' prevented Finucane inquiry
Prime Minister David Cameron allegedly told the family of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane others would not let a public inquiry into his murder happen, according to High Court papers.
The lawyer's widow Geraldine also claims a mystery intervention led to an apparent change of mind by Mr Cameron over the holding of a full independent inquiry.
Details emerged on Friday as lawyers for the family cleared the first stage in their legal challenge over the refusal to order a public inquiry.
A judge granted leave to seek a judicial review after being told the government was not opposing the preliminary application.
The case has been listed for a full hearing over three days in May.
During a brief hearing at the Northern Ireland High Court, the Finucanes' legal team also dropped their interim bid to stop Mr Cameron's alternative plan for a senior lawyer to examine the case.
Sir Desmond De Silva is now expected to continue his review of the killing and report back by the end of the year.
Mr Finucane was gunned down at his north Belfast home by the loyalist Ulster Freedom Fighters in 1989.
His family have campaigned for a full independent inquiry and believed they were set to achieve that when they went to Downing Street to meet the Prime Minister last October.
Instead they were shocked to be told that a review rather than an inquiry would take place.
In an affidavit filed as part of their legal challenge, Geraldine Finucane stated: "I felt, and still feel, that the Prime Minister's actions in asking us to travel to London at our own expense to hear a decision that he must have known would not be welcomed were bewildering.
"While I still feel that we were treated cruelly by the Prime Minister and Secretary of State, on reflection I consider that the only explanation for the apparent change of mind could be an intervention or interventions by a person or persons unknown that took place between the date on which the meeting was arranged and the holding of the meeting."
Mrs Finucane added: "This view was supported by a comment made by the Prime Minister during the meeting when he said 'It is true that the previous administration could not deliver a public inquiry and neither can we. There are people in buildings all around here who won't let it happen.'"
Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson has said he believes that the De Silva review is the best mechanism available to get to the truth of what happened.
The family is seeking High Court orders quashing the decision to hold such a review into the murder and compelling the immediate establishment of a public inquiry.
Mr Justice Stephens granted leave to seek a judicial review after it was confirmed to him that the application was unopposed.
Outside the court, Mrs Finucane told UTV she felt the most significant aspect was that their challenge had gone "completely unopposed.
"It was a surprise, but a very pleasant surprise for a change."
Mrs Finucane said a review of the murder was not the appropriate measure.
In 2001, as a result of peace process talks held at Weston Park in Shropshire, the British and Irish Governments entered into an agreement to hold inquiries into allegations that their respective security forces were linked to a number of notorious murder cases - including Mr Finucane's killing.
It was eventually agreed that the Westminster Government would conduct inquiries into four cases, while the Dublin Government would hold one inquiry.
All have been held, except the investigation into the Finucane case.
murder: 'Shocking state collusion', says PM
The level of state collusion uncovered by a report into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane is "shocking", Prime Minister David Cameron has said.
However, the report concluded there had been "no overarching state conspiracy".
Sir Desmond de Silva's review confirmed that agents of the state were involved in the 1989 killing and that it should have been prevented.
Mr Finucane's widow, Geraldine, has dismissed the report as a "sham" and a "whitewash".
Mr Finucane was shot dead by loyalists in front of his wife and children at his north Belfast home.
The review, published on Wednesday, found RUC officers proposed Mr Finucane, 39, be killed, said they passed information to his killers and failed to stop the attack and then obstructed the murder investigation.
It also found that an Army intelligence unit, the FRU, "bears a degree" of responsibility because one of their agents, Brian Nelson, was involved in selecting targets.
The chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Matt Baggott, said the police fully accepted the findings of the report.
He offered a "complete, absolute and unconditional" apology to the Finucane family, saying they had been "abjectly failed".
He said that in the coming days the PSNI would discuss the report with the Police Ombudsman and the Public Prosecution Service.
"Pat Finucane's murder should never have happened and it is a catalogue of failing which now needs to be assessed to see whether there are people who can be held accountable," he said.
Mrs Finucane said the government had "engineered a suppression of the truth" behind her husband's murder.
His family have led a high-profile campaign for a full public inquiry into the murder but Mr Cameron has ruled that out.
Mrs Finucane said: "At every turn, it is clear that this report has done exactly what was required - to give the benefit of the doubt to the state, its cabinet and ministers, to the Army, the intelligence services, to itself.
"At every turn, dead witnesses have been blamed, and defunct agencies found wanting. Serving personnel and active state departments appear to have been excused.
"The dirt has been swept under the carpet without any serious attempt to lift the lid on what really happened to Pat and so many others."
The Finucanes did not co-operate with the review and the solicitor's widow said the de Silva report did not tell her much more than she previously knew about the case.
Her son, Michael, claimed the government had refused their demand for a full inquiry because it did not want people to be questioned in public.
The report concluded that Nelson did not provide his handlers with details of the plot against Mr Finucane.
It found that MI5 received intelligence two months before the killing that Mr Finucane was under threat but that no steps were taken to protect him.
It also found that MI5 helped spread propaganda against Mr Finucane in the years before he was killed.
Sir Desmond found that "in 1985 the security service assessed that 85% of the UDA's 'intelligence' originated from sources within the security forces".
And he was "satisfied that this proportion would have remained largely unchanged" by the time of Mr Finucane's murder."
Sir Desmond de Silva QC carried out the review at the government's request. The Finucanes want a public inquiry as they feared the full truth would not emerge.
In his report Sir Desmond said: "A series of positive actions by employees of the state actively furthered and facilitated his murder and that, in the aftermath of the murder, there was a relentless attempt to defeat the ends of justice.
"My review of the evidence relating to Patrick Finucane's case has left me in no doubt that agents of the state were involved in carrying out serious violations of human rights up to and including murder.
"However, despite the different strands of involvement by elements of the state, I am satisfied that they were not linked to an over-arching state conspiracy to murder Patrick Finucane."
Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Mr Cameron was strongly critical of the RUC and Army for their conduct in relation to the killing.
He said Sir Desmond concluded that there was "no political conspiracy" over the murder but that "ministers were misled".
Mr Cameron added that the report found "no evidence whatsoever that any government minister had fore-knowledge of Mr Finucane's murder".
He said that on behalf of the government and the whole country he wanted to say to the Finucane family that he was "deeply sorry".
Last year, Mr Cameron acknowledged there was state collusion in Mr Finucane's murder and apologised to his family.
In the report, Sir Desmond found that an account one of the murderers, Ken Barrett, gave to the BBC Panorama programme about receiving intelligence from the RUC was "essentially accurate".
However, he added that some specific allegations made by Barrett against individual officers were not reliable.
Former Ulster Unionist MP Lord Maginnis of Drumglass said the apology was "ridiculous".
"The reality is that the Finucane family were an IRA family and I can illustrate that by saying that, when I gave that allegation publicly and was being sued for libel, the family retracted and paid my legal expenses," he told the House of Lords.
"So let's not fool ourselves about the godfather Finucane, who was killed."
State collusion identified by review
a public inquiry into Finucane murder?
By Barry McCaffrey
On October 2011 the family of Pat Finucane came face to face with British Prime Minister David Cameron in 10 Downing Street for what they thought would be the announcement of a public inquiry into the solicitor’s murder.
Instead the family were informed that previous Prime Minister Tony Blair’s promise of a public inquiry had now been overruled and replaced with a review of existing evidence to be carried out in private by barrister Desmond De Silva QC.
Quite why the British government would not allow a public inquiry remains unclear as Mr Cameron told Geraldine Finucane that he accepted there had been collusion in her husband’s murder.
Veteran human rights campaigner Jane Winter, who was present at the meeting, says there was a moment which provided some insight into where the power within the British establishment may actually lie on this subject.
When the family were given the unexpected news that they were being refused a public inquiry, Mr Finucane’s brother Martin asked Mr Cameron: “Is somebody standing in the way? Is it the MoD?”
Recalling the Prime Minister’s response, Ms Winter said: “Cameron went completely off script at that point and he said `look, the last administration couldn’t deliver an inquiry in your husband’s case [he was addressing himself to Geraldine Finucane] and neither can we.
“Because there are people all around this place, [10 Downing Street], who won’t let it happen.”
Ms Winter said that as the Prime Minister made the admission he raised a finger and made a circular motion in the air.
“That’s what he actually said. That’s my clear recollection.”
This morning the Finucane family is back in London – this time to hear the outcome of Mr De Silva’s review of the official government papers into the solicitor’s 1989 murder.
It is a long way from the public inquiry which the family has been demanding for 23 years.
The Finucanes question what, if anything has changed since Mr Cameron’s revelation that there were those in the British establishment who would never allow such an inquiry to take place.
A major concern is that the Finucane’s legal team has had no opportunity to challenge the validity of evidence supplied by the RUC/PSNI, MI5 and British army – crucially as all three agencies are centrally implicated in the allegation of security force collusion in the murder.
It is understood that Mr De Silva, who was formerly a member of a political think tank for Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, will not make any recommendations in his 500 page report, which includes an additional 500 page annex.
It is expected that the majority of the content of the De Silva report, due to be announced by Mr Cameron in the House of Commons today (Wednesday), has already been put in to the public domain by previous investigations into the solicitor’s murder.
The identity of the killers is well known.
It is also known that at least three security force agents (Brian Nelson, Billy Stobie and Ken Barrett) were centrally involved in the murder; and crucially that Nelson and Stobie had also warned their army and Special Branch handlers that Pat Finucane was going to be killed – yet no action was taken to prevent the attack.
Geraldine Finucane says that her quest for a public inquiry is driven by a desire not to unmask those who fired the actual shots that killed her husband but instead to identify those in the British establishment who the family believe pulled the strings which led to the 39 year-old being shot 12 times in front of his wife and three children as they sat down to dinner on Sunday February 12, 1989.
The family fear that, in the absence of an independent inquiry, the De Silva report will fail to identify the establishment figures suspected of ordering and then turning a blind eye to Pat Finucane’s murder.
Over the last 20 years there has been a series of official inquiries into the murder, by Sir John Stevens and retired Canadian judge Peter Cory.
However the activities of one agency – MI5 – has escaped any real scrunity.
MI5 failed to alert solicitor to three previous attempts on his life
The activities of MI5 in Northern Ireland in the 1980s were overseen by a Director and Coordinator of Intelligence (DCI) stationed at Stormont.
The MI5 chief had responsibility for policy, direction and coordination of intelligence work undertaken within Northern Ireland.
He was in charge of MI5 agents who regularly liased with both FRU and Special Branch.
Documents obtained by Judge Cory revealed that MI5 agents had warned on three separate occasions over a 10 year period that the UDA had plans to kill Pat Finucane.
As early as August 1981 an MI5 agent had warned of a planned attack on the solicitor.
The Security Service alerted the head of RUC Special Branch but minutes of the meeting indicate that, while the threat was thought to be both “very real and imminent”, it was decided that no action would be taken as to intervene would compromise the security of the agent.
Special Branch decided not to inform Mr Finucane that his life was in danger.
A similar threat went unheeded in 1985.
In December 1988 MI5 was informed that the UDA planned to kill three solicitors; Pat Finucane, Oliver Kelly and PJ McGrory.
Judge Cory reported that the information had failed to “apparently trigger any action on the part of the Security Service.”
Even after Mr Finucane’s murder weeks later no effort was made to warn the other two solicitors that their lives were in danger.
killing: "Far worse than anything alleged in Iraq or Afghanistan"
One of David Cameron's closest advisors described the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane as far worse than anything alleged in Iraq or Afghanistan, the High Court has heard.
Sir Jeremy Heywood also questioned whether the prime minister believed it was right to "renege" on a previous administration's commitment to hold a public inquiry into a killing.
His family are challenging that decision.
Mr Finucane was shot dead in 1989.
On Thursday, Mr Justice Stephens heard how Mr Heywood, now cabinet secretary, referred to Mr Finucane's murder as "a dark moment in the country's history".
Details of emailed correspondence between the top civil servant and another senior Downing Street official were revealed as lawyers for the Finucane family pressed for complete disclosure of notes or recordings from a series of ministerial meetings.
They want the material as part of their legal challenge to the British government's refusal to order a full, independent probe into the 1989 assassination.
A review carried out by lawyer Sir Desmond de Silva QC and published in December confirmed agents of the state were involved in the murder and that it should have been prevented.
However, it concluded there had been no overarching state conspiracy in the shooting, carried out by the loyalist Ulster Freedom Fighters at the solicitor's north Belfast home.
Although Mr Cameron expressed shock at the level of collusion uncovered by Sir Desmond, Mr Finuncane's widow, Geraldine claimed it was a sham and a whitewash.
Opening the family's application for discovery of the documents, Barry Macdonald QC said the case was about past and present abuse of state power.
The first instance in 1989 involved the murder of a solicitor perceived to be "a thorn in the side" of the government, police and security services, he claimed.
Mr Macdonald continued: "Secondly, it's about abuse of power in 2011 by the current government when it decided to renege on a solemn commitment to conduct a public inquiry into those events in 1989."
The full scale of what went on has yet to be revealed, according to the barrister.
He told Mr Justice Stephens: "The applicant, Mrs Finucane, knows the name of the person who pulled the trigger. The question is who was pulling the strings?
"In a 500-page report by Sir Desmond de Silva, consideration of the government's role takes up five pages."
Stressing the gravity of the case, Mr Macdonald detailed an email Sir Jeremy sent to Simon King, a private secretary to the prime minister, ahead of a ministerial meeting in July 2011.
In correspondence already disclosed to the parties, he asked: "Does the prime minister seriously think that it's right to renege on a previous government's clear commitment to hold a full judicial inquiry?
"This was a dark moment in the country's history - far worse than anything that was alleged in Iraq/Afghanistan.
"I cannot really think of any argument to defend not having a public inquiry. What am I missing?"
A reply email stated that the prime minister "shares the view this is an awful case, and as bad as it gets, and far worse than any post 9/11 allegation", the court heard.
According to Mr Macdonald, the exchange provided a flavour of the seriousness of the alleged abuse of power in not holding a public inquiry.
Material being sought by the Finuncanes' lawyers includes original notes, minutes, recordings or transcripts of:
Paul McLaughlin, appearing for the government, told the court that the decision taken in the Finucane case followed a detailed balancing exercise.
He said it involved weighing any commitment by a previous government against current public interest.
Mr McLaughlin also pointed out that retired Canadian Judge Peter Cory had already examined the case and concluded there should be a public inquiry.
He argued that some of the material being sought would not advance the plaintiff's cause any further.
Mr Finucane was shot dead by loyalists in front of his wife and children at his north Belfast home in 1989.
Mr Cameron acknowledged in 2011 there had been state collusion in Mr Finucane's murder and apologised to his family.
The hearing continues.
after Finucane killing, the damage limitation continues
By Berry McCaffrey
Today marks 24 years since solicitor Pat Finucane was shot dead in a killing which has become a defining symbol of the state’s complicity in the Troubles.
The government-commissioned report into the murder has yielded secrets of the “dirty war” which still have the power to shock – such as the existence of a senior RUC officer helping loyalists procure weapons – but other pieces of the picture remain off-limits to this day.
The review by Sir Desmond de Silva portrays intelligence agencies within the British Army, RUC and MI5 not only at war with each other, but deeply enmeshed with loyalist paramilitaries engaged in a vicious sectarian murder campaign at that time.
When the report was published two months ago, the Government presented it as the final word on collusion in the Finucane case. But does the de Silva review hold anyone to account or, instead conveniently lay much of the blame at the feet of dead men and defunct institutions?
The Detail has studied the report in-depth and spoken to some of those who know the case best, including Mr Finucane’s youngest son, John, who is now himself a solicitor and who maintains that de Silva raises more questions than it answers.
Loyalists and security forces: Who was debriefing whom?
Previously classified intelligence documents now show that both MI5 and Special Branch were aware that an unnamed senior RUC officer was actively helping loyalist paramilitaries to procure weapons in the 1980s.
All three intelligence agencies were aware of the senior policeman’s efforts to procure illegal weapons for loyalist paramilitaries but failed to identify the officer or bring him to justice.
De Silva concluded: “Whilst I acknowledge that the intelligence did not enable the individual officer concerned to be confidently identified, I consider that the documentary record as a whole does suggest that it is likely that a high-level RUC contact assisted loyalist paramilitaries to an extent in their efforts to procure arms in the mid-1980s.”
The task of targeting loyalist paramilitaries within the RUC was undertaken by a specialist unit E3B.
However a secret MI5 report for the Chief Constable in December 1988 found that E3B “has neither time, resources or sufficient data base to collate and analyse intelligence”.
The official position has always been that leaks to loyalist paramilitaries were confined to rogue low-level members of the security forces.
However declassified MI5 and FRU documents now reveal that a number of senior police and army officers were providing loyalists with high grade intelligence during the 1980s: “Reliable and repeated reports covered comparatively senior officers in the RUC through to senior officers in the UDR, though such individuals were not always identifiable on the basis of the intelligence that had been received.”
Despite this the de Silva review found that the majority of allegations of RUC leaks to loyalist paramilitaries were never investigated.
“Such leaks were not institutional, nor systemic, though they could certainly be described as widespread.”
While de Silva said there was insufficient evidence that UDR units had officially supplied the UDA with weapons, he concluded: “nevertheless it does appear to have been extraordinarily easy for loyalists to acquire weapons from UDR sources.”
Many UDA attacks could be traced back to assistance initially provided by members of the security forces.
In 1985 MI5 assessed that 85% of UDA ‘intelligence’ used to target nationalists originated from within the security forces.
In 1988 each of the UDA’s six `brigade’ areas were said to have at least 20 individual RUC sources of intelligence.
In December 1988 RUC Special Branch and MI5 had intelligence that a senior west Belfast UDA gunman was planning to break into a Royal Irish Regiment (RIR) base at Ballykinlar in Co Down to steal army intelligence to be used to target nationalists.
Despite having prior intelligence of the plan, Special Branch and MI5 allowed the break-in to go ahead. An MI5 internal memo stated: “[L/03] was planning to break into a UDR camp on 2 December to photograph some intelligence reports … D/HSB (Deputy Head of Special Branch) advised that ‘since the UDA already had lots of this stuff anyway’ and that they would find nothing of value there was little to be gained by trying to prevent [L/03’s] activity.”
A Ministry of Defence internal document confirmed that Catholic father-of-two Loughlin Maginn was later murdered as a result of intelligence which the UDA gang obtained from the Ballykinlar break-in.
The document further disclosed that UDA gunmen plotting another murder in the South Down area had planned to hide in the army base after the killing.
The MoD document warned: “This is potential dynamite. Should this become public knowledge the Security Forces, particularly the Royal Irish Regiment’s credibility would be severely damaged.”
L/03 was later identified as being one of the ringleaders of the UDA gang responsible for the murder of Pat Finucane and a series of sectarian killings in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The review found that RUC efforts to contain the UDA in west Belfast had been “grossly inadequate”.
“I was able to trace the involvement of that particular gang through a series of murders and attacks by the West Belfast UDA during the year prior to Patrick Finucane’s murder,” said de Silva.
“I have seen the significant amount of intelligence that the RUC SB received at the time linking those individuals to the attacks, at least some of which was passed to the RUC Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
“Whilst the intelligence was not of the kind that would have been admissible in evidence for the purpose of bringing criminal charges, in my view it could have enabled the police to identify suspects and thereby develop evidential leads. Arrests could also have been highly effective in disrupting the plans of those paramilitaries to carry out imminent attacks.”
The review found that the RUC took “comparatively, very little exploitative action” resulting from intelligence on loyalist targeting.
The review found that the UDA’s west Belfast `brigadier` Tommy Lyttle was being assisted by RUC and Special Branch.
From 1986 onwards he was receiving intelligence from an RUC superintendent while in December 1987 he was given a large number of RUC photomontages.
Ken Barrett, the only loyalist ever convicted with the murder of Pat Finucane, claimed that “the police could have put us in the barracks (prison) at any time”.
The role of Brian Nelson
Declassified documents showed evidence that both FRU and RUC provided targeting information for the UDA via the loyalist double agent Brian Nelson, one of the central figures in the Finucane case and many of the other loyalist killings of the late 80s and early 90s.
Nelson’s intelligence files were found to bear a “striking resemblance” to Special Branch files on Pat Finucane and de Silva reflects a startling level of impunity with which Nelson operated in an era of extreme loyalist violence.
“FRU were providing him with “at the very least, tacit approval of his activity. On occasions, however, it seems to have gone much further than that, if not to the point of actively encouraging his activity.”
In 1988 Nelson was provided with targeting material on at least four occasions, one of which related to FRU passing information to Nelson at the request of the RUC.
Nelson was dismayed that handlers had not celebrated his involvement in the murder of Jimmy Craig in October 1988 with a celebratory drink.
Nelson’s FRU handler later wrote that a celebratory drink might have been appropriate had they known about his role in the murder.
At war with themselves
However the internal war between Special Branch (SB), the Force Research Unit (FRU) and MI5 for the ultimate control of power undoubtedly led to innocent civilians being killed.
Highlighting the constant battle for supremacy between the agencies, de Silva concluded:
“The RUC SB blamed the FRU and vice versa.
“Both sides cannot be telling the truth in this critically important matter. Either the FRU were permitting the killing of certain targeted individuals to go ahead at the hands of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) by not passing the information on to the RUC SB, or the SB, having received the required information from the FRU, were failing through negligence or design to take the necessary steps to save lives.”
An internal intelligence agency memo relating to the investigation of security force leaks stated:
“The Chief Constable [Sir Hugh Annesley] is very vulnerable to the criticism surrounding the montage investigation.
“Could the Chief Constable weather an investigation into this area? Probably not.”
The secret document goes on to describe MI5 as having its “fair share of officers with dubious qualities”.
MI5’s Director and Co-ordinator of Intelligence (DCI) is recorded as saying he would “lose no sleep if FRU was disbanded”.
However the secret document says that the DCI is himself “clearly vulnerable to the criticisms that he failed to control intelligence gathering agencies in Northern Ireland”.
By Barry McCaffrey
The murder of Pat Finucane continues to haunt the highest echelons of British government but the extraordinary lengths which government ministers and senior Downing Street officials undertook to prevent the state’s involvement in the killing of its own citizens can now be more fully revealed than ever before.
The Detail has studied the report by Sir Desmond de Silva into the killing and discussed it with those who know the case well. Previously unseen dimensions of the murder itself, the wider activity of state agencies at the time, and the attitude of the current government to these events include:
In the event no evidence of the state’s involvement in the killing of its own citizens ever made it into the public domain as murder charges against Nelson were dropped when he pleaded guilty to other charges in 1992 and he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The case which won’t go away
While the identities of the UDA gunmen who shot the human rights solicitor dead in front of his wife and three children are well known, allegations of high-level political involvement continue to persist.
In 2001 the British government pledged to establish a public inquiry into allegations of security force involvement in the solicitor’s murder, if recommended by retired Canadian judge Peter Cory.
Despite Judge Cory concluding that there was evidence of security force collusion the British government refused to establish a public inquiry.
Instead in October 2011 Prime Minister David Cameron asked Sir Desmond de Silva QC to undertake a review of papers in the case.
In December 2012 Sir Desmond concluded that while agents of the state had colluded in the solicitor’s killing there was no evidence of any “overarching state conspiracy”.
Downing Street and the Dirty War
However, a detailed analysis of declassified documents released as part of the review process provide a telling account of the “frantic effort”made by senior government ministers to prevent the full story of the state’s involvement in the murder of its citizens emerging if British army agent Brian Nelson was forced to stand trial. read
A former senior RUC Special Branch officer, who had personally briefed then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher about the terrorist threat in Northern Ireland during the late 1980s, told Sir Desmond that the British government’s view of how Special Branch handled agents was to "“carry on with what you’re doing but don’t tell us the details.” read
The officer concerned is not identified but is believed to have gone on to be promoted to one of the highest positions within the RUC.
Despite de Silva’s claims that senior government ministers had lacked any proper knowledge of the activities of the intelligence services in Northern Ireland, disclosed documents in his own review process reveal how Mrs Thatcher had personally intervened in a dispute over intelligence co-operation between the RUC and British army in August 1988.
A note of the meeting, which took place six months before the murder of Pat Finucane, recorded that Mrs Thatcher “was very concerned that this situation appeared to exist”. read
The level of the Prime Minister’s personal interest in intelligence operations in Northern Ireland is further evidenced by a note from her Downing Street office to the NIO, dated 24 August 1988, advising that better co-ordination of intelligence “is not an organisational matter, but a question of trust between those concerned, which can only be gained by working together”. read
Despite evidence that the British army’s Force Research Unit actively helped its agent Brian Nelson to supply both the UDA and UVF with intelligence material to target innocent Catholics, the de Silva report concluded that there “was no evidence that ministers sought to direct the security forces to take a relaxed or permissive approach to loyalist paramilitaries”. read
However documents declassified during the review process show the “frantic effort” of senior government ministers, including Mrs Thatcher’s successor John Major, to try to ensure that the involvement of the intelligence agencies in state sponsored violence was never disclosed at Nelson’s trial.
On September 26, 1990 Defence Minister Tom King was warned by his officials of the potential “political damage” and a “strong political dimension” in the Nelson affair." read
Following public criticism from the Irish government and international human rights groups Mr King lobbied Mr Major and other government ministers to ensure that: “the Irish government should be made to understand that by not prosecuting in certain cases we may sustain our capability to identify loyalist threats to the Catholic community and take action to prevent terrorism of that kind.” read
The pressure applied to the Attorney General and DPP
On March 11, 1991 then Attorney General Patrick Mayhew informed Mr King that the Director for Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland, Sir Alasdair Fraser believed there was sufficent evidence to prosecute Nelson with two murders, four charges of conspiracy to murder, one charge of attempted murder and other lesser charges, including involvement in the killing of Pat Finucane. read
A MoD memo, dated March 15, 1991 stated: “The judgement on the strength of the case is for the DPP (NI) only; his preliminary conclusion indicates he believes the evidence to be sufficient for Nelson to face a court to answer it and the chance of a conviction to be greater than 50-50.”
Despite the apparent independence of the DPP, documents declassified during the review process reveal the extraordinary extent to which government ministers and senior Downing Street officials were involved in attempts to ensure the Nelson trial never took place.
Under normal legal procedures government ministers are not permitted to interfere with a prosecution case.
However the Shawcross Principles (which allows ministers to give their view to the Attorney General on issues of public interest) was invoked to permit a range of senior Tory ministers to lobby Mr Mayhew to prevent the Nelson trial from going ahead.
The Prime Minister, Northern Ireland Secretary of State Peter Brooke, MoD minister Tom King and senior government ministers all argued against Nelson’s prosecution.
In a memo to Mr Major, Cabinet Secretary Robin Butler wrote that while there were grave considerations in not prosecuting Nelson: “The best way of persuading the attorney not to authorise prosecution, if that is what you and your colleagues decide to try to do, may be to lead him to the conclusion that, while the damage a prosecution would do to the intelligence effort is certain, the prospects of a successful prosecution are much less so.” read
Sir Robin later drafted a letter for the Prime Minister, which was to be sent to Attorney General, setting out Mr Major’s opposition to the trial.
A handwritten note, again apparently drafted by Sir Robin, reiterated the need to avoid prosecution of Nelson.
“Whatever the hubbub, people would understand why we could not bring the prosecution” it said. read
Another memo from Mr Major’s Private Secretary Charles Powell, dated March 19, 1991, stated the while Prime Minister would make his own judgement, intelligence-gathering was a “very murky world” and “you have to use the material to hand: the old adage that it takes a thief to catch a thief ”. read
The efforts of the Prime Minister and senior officials to avoid an embarrassing trial led to Mr Major holding a meeting (understood to have taken place on May 1, 1991) with the Attorney General to argue the public interest issues against prosecution.
On May 15 Mr Powell told the Prime Minister that any potential decision to collapse the trial would be a “very good outcome” for the government.
In a handwritten note, added to a letter from Peter Brooke to the Prime Minister, Mr Powell wrote:
“One possibility is that when it becomes apparent that the prosecution case is relying on Nelson’s debriefing to his handlers and treating it like a confession, the defence will object on grounds that this is not a proper statement taken under Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE). If the objection is sustained the case could collapse at the start – a very good outcome (Attorney General) and DPP (NI) are salved and case comes to an end before too much damage is done.” read
Did government ministers really not know about Nelson?
The de Silva review concluded there was no evidence that cabinet ministers had known about Brian Nelson’s role within the Force Research Unit and his involvement in a series of loyalist murders.
The report concluded that a lack of proper guidelines for the intelligence agencies to follow meant: “the system appears to have facilitated political deniability in relation to such operations rather than creating mechanisms for an appropriate level of political oversight”.
Security experts had expressed surprise that the de Silva review was unable to find any evidence as to whether or not ministers had been briefed by MI5 on either Brian Nelson’s role inside the UDA in the late 1980s or the series of high profile legal challenges Pat Finucane had won against the British government in the years before his murder.
It has now been confirmed by de Silva that Mr Finucane was also the subject of a “propaganda initiative” carried out by MI5 aimed at “discrediting and unnerving” the solicitor in the1980s by spreading rumours that he was a member of the PIRA. read
While de Silva found that MI5’s “propaganda” targeting had not been particularly focused or well controlled, he concluded that: “the initiatives certainly came to include within their scope individuals who were not members of terrorist organisations but prominent figures in the broader nationalist and republican communities.”
The “black-op” targeting was finally terminated in 1989 after the murder of Pat Finucane when MI5 recognised it was on “dangerous ground” as it had reportedly obtained no official political approval for the operation.
While the de Silva review said it was satisfied that there was no intention that MI5’s “propaganda initiative” had been designed to incite loyalists to murder Pat Finucane, it acknowledged that it could “undoubtedly have served to further legitimate him as a potential target for loyalists.” read
However de Silva did not seek to interview any of the MI5 officers who had been operational in Northern Ireland during the Nelson affair.
This is despite the fact that three MI5 officers involved in Northern Ireland in the 1980s are still currently employed by the Security Service.
The report states that government ministers had no knowledge of the existence of Brian Nelson or his involvement in murder, prior to his arrest in January 1990.
This is despite the fact that the Secretary of State took part in meetings of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), which dealt with intelligence matters in Northern Ireland. Read
The Secretary of State also attended monthly meetings of Security Policy Meetings (SPM) with the Chief Constable, British army GoC (General Officer Commanding), NIO Permanent Secretary and MI5’s Director and Co-ordinator of Intelligence (DCI) in Northern Ireland.
The MI5 director was tasked with advising the Secretary of State, Chief Constable and GOC on all intelligence matters in Northern Ireland.
He was not only responsible for intelligence advice to the Northern Ireland Office but also for providing intelligence to officials in Whitehall, through reports prepared by the Assessments Group (ASGP), which received intelligence from Special Branch, FRU and MI5 and passed onto government.
The Secret Intelligence Services (SIS) and the government’s leading surveillance department GCHQ both said they had no additional relevant material relating to the De Silva review.
This is despite the fact that it is known the intelligence agencies had bugged Brian Nelson’s car and are also understood to have bugged UDA headquarters on the Shankill Road and in east Belfast.
In March 1992 former NIO Permanent Secretary Sir John Blelloch was asked to carry out a review of agent handling in Northern Ireland, crucially the report was not to include “a detailed inquiry into differing interpretations of past incidents”. read
Ministers deny deal done with Nelson
Despite DPP Sir Alasdair Fraser having previously concluded that Nelson should be prosecuted for double murder the charges against the FRU agent were unexpectedly dropped without explanation.
Instead Nelson pleaded guilty to five lesser charges of conspiracy to murder, meaning the murky world of the state’s involvement in the murder of its own citizens would never be made public.
The government and Public Prosecution Service denied that any deal had been done for Nelson’s silence.
However a meeting between the Attorney General and prosecution counsel on January 17, 1992, records that discussions about a deal had taken place with Nelson’s barristers. read
Documents reveal that the MoD paid Nelson’s wife £1,650 per month while he was in jail.
De Silva concluded that the MoD had “consciously and comprehensively bought his silence” by linking Nelson’s decision not to implicate his superiors with its financial support for his family. read
In off-the-record conversations with detectives from the Stevens Inquiry Nelson admitted that his wife and children had been helped to pass their driving tests and been bought two cars.
In February 1993, less than a year after being jailed, Nelson told Sir John Stevens that he was due to be paroled and “hoped for an early release”.
During another off-the-record conversation with Stevens’ detectives on June 28, 1993 Nelson was questioned as to whether one of his FRU handlers had supplied him with the home address of murder victim Terence McDaid.
He initially told detectives: “You are nearly there, but not quite” but later admitted that the FRU handler had assisted him in the targeting of the Catholic father of two, adding: “You’ll never get a statement from me about it.” read
Nelson’s handler, identified only as A/13, was not questioned by de Silva on medical grounds.