SDLP concern over British censorship

The British government is trying to end public inquiries as we know them and replace them with ones that are state-controlled and censored, according to the leader of the SDLP.

Speaking following a meeting with the Finucane family, Mark Durkan said: “They are clear that they want to work with a public inquiry. But they also want a public inquiry that works. One that is independent. One that is public. One that can get to the truth.

“The SDLP shares their goal. We also share their concerns about what the British Government is proposing.

“We have held a series of meetings with the government in recent weeks and it is clear that government want an inquiry that is state-controlled and state-censored.

“The government wants the power to dictate to the inquiry that evidence must be heard in private. They even want the power to censor the inquiry’s findings,” the SDLP leader said.

“And they want these powers not just for the Finucane inquiry, but for all inquiries.”

He added: “That is why all parties - both in Ireland and in Britain - should be alarmed about the government’s proposals. They are about ending public inquiries as we know them and muzzling the ability to get to the truth - not just about collusion, but about any issue.”

The British government has ordered public inquiries into a series of murders following reports from Judge Cory, including that of Belfast defence lawyer Patrick Finucane.

This week, The North’s Human Rights Commission called on London to put in place measures to ensure there can be no recurrence of collusion between the Crown forces and unionist paramilitaries.

The commission also said it supported the holding of public judicial inquiries and would welcome the involvement of international experts.

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