Irish Republican News · March 18, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Legal figures blast Finucane inquiry restrictions

Lord Saville, chair of the new Bloody Sunday Inquiry in Derry, has publicly condemned the British government’s controversial plans for holding a restricted inquiry into the murder of Belfast defence lawyer Pat Finucane.

The 1989 killing has been the subject of a lengthy campaign for truth and justice by the Finucane family, and the failure to hold an inquiry is seen as a key breach by the British government of its commitments in the peace process.

British forces are known to have colluded with unionist paramilitaries in the killing of Mr Finucane and other nationalists in a dirty war organised by its secretive FRU, the ‘Force Research Unit’.

International pressure is increasing to ensure plans to limit the inquiry and hold parts in secret in order to protect the British national interest are dropped.

In one of two long letters to the British Constitutional Affairs Minister, Lord Saville, who has yet to deliver his report on the Bloody Sunday inquiry, writes: “I am convinced that the new Bill will make it difficult to get at the whole truth about the death of Pat Finucane”.

He adds that he would “not be prepared to be a member of an inquiry, if at my back was a minister with power to exclude the public or to decide that evidence or documents should not be disclosed to the public.”

Expressed in traditionally diplomatic language, the letter is a ringing condemnation of the British government’s plans.

Saville also warns that the Finucane inquiry terms could breach Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The retired Canadian judge Peter Cory, who recommended public inquires into four cases of British state collusion, said an independent probe into the Finucane case was “impossible” because of the restrictions.

“It really creates an impossible Alice in Wonderland situation,” the judge wrote 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,” said Cory’s letter.

US Envoy Mitchell Reiss has also expressed concern at the meeting of the Congressional committee in Washington, but backed Britain’s effort to protect its “national security”.

He urged that the terms of reference should have the necessary authority “to establish the truth and to examine thoroughly the allegations of collusion highlighted by Judge Cory,” but added that there should be “as much transparency as possible, within the constraints of protecting lives and considerations of national security.”

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© 2005 Irish Republican News