Dublin backs Finucane inquiry call
BY FERN LANE
The family of assassinated lawyer Pat Finucane moved significantly closer to the establishment of an independent judicial inquiry into the circumstances surrounding his death after a meeting last Thursday, 24 February with Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, Minister for Foreign Affairs Brian Cowen and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Liz O'Donnell.
Speaking afterwards, Ahern said that the murder of Pat Finucane was ``cause for the deepest concern'' and that the case for an inquiry into security forces collusion in the killing was ``compelling''.
Minister of State Liz O'Donnell, who has supported the famliy's demand for some time, criticised the failure of the British government to initiate an inquiry, calling it ``intolerable''. She said that there was clear evidence suggesting that the killing of Pat Finucane was only part of ``an appalling vista of collusion''.
Members of the Finucane family, together with their legal representatives and human rights activists, said afterwards that they had been encouraged by the response of the Irish authorities. Campaigners said that ``the issue is no longer whether an inquiry will take place but rather when and with what remit''.
They handed Ahern a copy of ``Justice Denied: Alleged State Colusion in the Murder of Patrick Finucane'', the second report on this matter by Jane Winter of British Irish Rights Watch. Her report also considers British Intelligence and RUC collusion in a significant number of other murders. Amnesty International has told the Dublin government there is no legal reason why an inquiry cannot be held whilst a murder investigation is in progress, citing the case of Stephen Lawrence as a precedent. The report is also critical of the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, particularly in the light of the account of loyalist William Stobie. Stobie has been charged with the murder and says that, as a member of the UFF, he worked as an agent for the RUC and provided the Special Branch with detailed prior information about the murder of Pat Finucane.
During the course of the meeting, Bertie Ahern committed his government to formally endorsing the demand for an independent inquiry. He also promised to raise the matter at the UN in Geneva and in US congressional committee hearings and to organise a meeting between the Finucane family and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.