Irish Republican News · November 2, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Finucane family meets Blair

British Prime Minister Tony Blair faced met the family of Pat Finucane to discuss the terms of reference for an inquiry into the controversial 1989 murder of the Belfast defence lawyer.

Pat Finucane was gunned down in front of his family in his north Belfast home by the unionist paramilitary UDA, acting in collusion with the British Army and police.

Mr Finucane’s widow Geraldine, son Michael and other family members were joined at today’s meeting by their legal adviser Peter Madden and by Jane Winter, director of the London-based human rights group British Irish Rights Watch.

London police chief John Stevens has concluded in an investigation that Mr Finucane was a victim of collusion.

The case for a public inquiry was further strengthened when retired Canadian judge Peter Cory, appointed to report on the matter, recommended to the British government that there should be one.

Delay and fudging have characterised the British approach to the issue. The recent announcement by British Direct Ruler in Ireland, Paul Murphy, that an inquiry would be established, omitted the crucial word “public”. He also suggested that large sections would be held behind closed doors to protect British interests.

After the meeting, Michael Finucane said that while the British Prime Minister appeared sympathetic, he had not put their concerns to rest.

“Ultimately if the inquiry is not satisfactory even after all the hard work we have had to put in then we may have to withdraw and we may have to refuse to co-operate,” he said.

“I think that would be an extremely unfortunate decision to have to make and very much hope that we do not have to take that decision.

“But we had to leave the British Prime Minister in no doubt that if we are put to the sword we will walk away.”

The family will wait to see what is in legislation on public inquiries which the British government will publish shortly, he added.

Mrs Finucane said Mr Blair realised “this has been a very difficult road for us”.

“But the disturbing thing was that he did not give us very many answers to the questions we had to ask him,” she continued.

“We think we are entitled to a public inquiry with an international aspect to it, an inquiry that will get to the truth of this matter and which will bring closure for us.

“Closure is something that we want but we will not accept it at any price.”

Mrs Finucane added: “If we are given something substandard of course we will walk away.”

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly said the British government could no longer continue to stall on the establishment of a fully independent, international inquiry.

The North Belfast Assembly member said: “The track record of successive British governments in dealing with the issue of collusion, and specifically the murder of Pat Finucane, has been one of concealment and cover-up.

“So far this British government has failed to allow the sort of independent inquiry demanded by the Finucane family and which is acknowledged as the only mechanism which can reveal the truth about the murder of Pat Finucane to proceed.

“The British government must publish immediately the terms of reference for the proposed inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane.

“This will allow the Finucane family and those of us who support their demand for a full independent judicial public inquiry to assess whether the inquiry proposed will have the capacity to uncover the truth about British state involvement in this murder.”

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© 2004 Irish Republican News