Irish Republican News · April 28, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Anger as Blair dismisses pressure on Finucane killing

Calls for an immediate public inquiry into the murder of Belfast defence lawyer Pat Finucane were rejected by the British Prime Minister today.

Tony Blair stuck to his insistence that all criminal proceedings must be concluded before a probe can be launched despite mounting pressure to speed the inquiry.

Blair’s statement was starkly at odds with his decision to act on the report of the Indepedent Monitoring Commission, which drew conclusions on IRA activity in cases where prosecutions are pending.

Former SDLP leader John Hume demanded swifter action when he raised the issue at Prime Minister’s question time in the British parliament.

He asked: “Following the death of Pat Finucane and the enormous suffering of his family and given their consistent request for a public inquiry, do you agree that the time has now come for such an inquiry?”

The Government promised to hold any inquiry recommended by retired Canadian judge Peter Cory who was asked to investigate British Crown force collusion in four high-profile killings.

But when his report was published, British Direct Ruler said Mr Finucane’s death would only be investigated after a prosecution was concluded. This was seen as a further delaying tactic by the Finucane family, who have already waited for the completion of preliminary but damning investigations by Cory and London police chief John Stevens.

Blair denied he had reneged on commitments he made at Weston Park.

“There are inquiries proceeding now because of the prosecution in respect of Finucane. We believe it is important that that is taken through its proper process.”

But Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly accused Blair of “deliberately dodging the issue” of collusion.

Mr Kelly pinted out that former British agent Ken Barrett, who is facing trial for the murder of Pat Finucane, would go before a non-jury Diplock Court.

“For decades the British government have repeated the line that Diplock judges could not be influenced by external issues. Indeed the British government repeated this line in the High Court last week at an application to have the IMC Report stalled.

“Tony Blair cannot have it all ways. He will have to face up to the legacy of previous British administrations involvement in a policy of state sanctioned murder.

“He will have to face up to the challenge presented by the fact that many of the people involved in that policy are still in place. He cannot continue to dodge this issue.”

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© 2004 Irish Republican News